WeChat Takes On Alibaba With ‘Payments Score’


WeChat is now using a rating system to determine if a user is eligible to receive perks, including deposit-free renting services.

WeChat Payments Score soft-launched last November in eight cities, and the system is being tested out on certain apps, including Tencent-backed bank rental service Xiaodian, which will waive deposits for users if their rating hits a certain benchmark.

While it’s unknown how WeChat calculates the points, reporters performed a test that revealed the system factors in a user’s shopping and contract-fulfilling history.

WeChat’s rival, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, has had a similar assessment system in place since 2015, which measures similar factors. People with higher scores enjoy perks like deposit waivers for hotel stays.

The systems are a way to determine the creditworthiness of the millions of Chinese consumers without financial records. Currently, Baihang Credit is the only market-based personal credit agency approved by China’s central bank, with the government holding a 36 percent stake in the agency.

And the Chinese government wants to take financial credibility ratings to another level, with plans to enroll all of its citizens in a national database that would rate their financial, social and moral history. It’s not surprising that the program — planned to be implemented by 2020 — has raised concerns about privacy and surveillance.

In the meantime, WeChat is looking beyond payments. Earlier this week, the company’s founder, Allen Zhang, revealed how the company plans to stay relevant in the future by making the platform more like real life, including a just-launched video streaming feature that enables users to share their lives in real time, including the ability to add emojis, text and music.

“What we want is something that can let people record what they’re really experiencing, and let their friends see,” he said. “This process should not be like Moments. If it were, we wouldn’t be doing this.”