China's Biggest Developer Buys Payments Processor 99Bill

China's number-four online payments processor, 99Bill, is now under the control of the country's largest real estate developer, Dalian Wanda Group, the International Business Times reported on Friday (Dec. 26).

Dalian Wanda Group didn't say how much it paid for its controlling stake in 99Bill, which has 6.9 percent of the market behind Alipay, Tenpay and UnionPay, according to iResearch. (Alipay has almost 80 percent of that market.) But unnamed sources told Reuters that the stake could have cost more than 2 billion yuan ($322 million).

99Bill says it serves more than 2 million registered merchants and handles 2 million transactions per day.

Dalian Wanda CEO Ding Benxi said he "hopes that 99Bill will soon provide online payment solutions for all Wanda's businesses, and quickly become a leading payment and financial service provider in China."

The conglomerate's billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, has said previously that he is shifting the focus of the conglomerate towards entertainment, tourism and online businesses. The shift into e-commerce is part of the effort to remain profitable amid a property slump in the world's second largest economy.

In August, Dalian Wanda launched an $814 million joint venture with Chinese Internet services giants Tencent and Baidu to promote use of e-vouchers, e-coupons and e-tickets at Wanda Group's shopping malls, luxury hotels and movie theaters in 111 Chinese cities. Dalian Wanda reportedly holds a 70-percent stake in the joint venture, which the companies hope will give them an edge over Alipay for e-payments at brick-and-mortar stores.



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