Mobile Commerce

WeChat API Extends Payments To Developers

Tencent-owned WeChat has just made mobile shopping even easier for its users.

The instant messaging app announced Friday (Nov. 7) the launch of an API (application programming interface) that allows mobile app developers to connect directly to WeChat official accounts, a TechNode report says.

It’s a connection that Tencent hopes will offer those developers access to more consumer information and greater interactivity with users through the WeChat instant messaging feature.

But Tencent has more on its mind for the API than just consumer research. WeChat hopes the new feature will attract more users to its additional services, like its mobile payments offerings.

“By introducing this API, Tencnet expends its ecosystem with one of the largest mobile user base in China and links its online commercial community with offline commercial community,” says Global Economics Group competition and regulation expert Vanessa Yanhua Zhang. “With economy of scale, Tencent will quickly gain synergy by integrating its existing social network with commercial network, and will turn its users connection into commercial transaction supported by Tenpay’s payment system.”

In other words, by bridging apps to its payment services, WeChat users will more seamlessly be able to shop online and pay for products.

Tencent has paid particular attention to its mobile payments strategy this year. The company announced last March that it would support any brand with an account to sell items and services through the application, both in-store and online. Four months later WeChat launched its payment services feature, which lets users link the app to their online banking account for easier mobile purchases.

Connecting retailers, mobile apps and user bank accounts is part of Tencent’s efforts gain the lead in mobile commerce both in China and throughout the globe as it competes with Alibaba and its mobile payments service Alipay. The two rivals both won permission from the China Banking Regulatory Commission this year to establish their own private banks. Tencent, which secured that clearance in July, then launched Webank – a new venture to offer small business and individual banking services.

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