Mobile payments took another great leap forward in China earlier this week, with the announcement that WeChat users can now use the messaging platform to pay their utility bills.
Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, is offering the service in conjunction with Shanghai Fufeitong Information Technology—a web service that specialized in online utility bill pay. The service handles payments worth around 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) a year according to the Shanghai Daily.
A trial run of the program launched in early August attracted 11,000 WeChat subscribers and netted more than 100 payments.
The pick-up is also a win for Tencent over mega-rival Alibaba. A five-year deal between Alipay—Alibaba’s payment arm—and Fufeitong was halted in July. Tenpay, Tencent’s rival service to Alipay was unable to pick-up much traction, until the launch of mobile payments through WeChat, which has made it newly competitive.
“Tenpay, Tencent’s older online payment system … was never able to threaten Alipay’s dominance until the rise of WeChat created a new battlefield,” industry observer Lanie Nie wrote earlier this month, reports The South China Morning Post.