Tech giant Apple is embracing WeChat Pay, giving consumers in China more ways to pay for purchases. The WeChat Pay digital payment service is offered by China-based investment holding company Tencent.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Apple said in a statement it is “committed to offering customers across our ecosystem a variety of payment options that are simple and convenient.”
Accepting WeChat Pay as a payment method is important for the Cupertino, California, company, especially given that during the second quarter, the App Store earned more money in China in than any of its other markets around the world, reported WSJ, citing mobile analytics company App Annie.
Apple Pay has a tiny piece of the market, comparatively. Apple first began accepting Alibaba’s Alipay for app purchases in November of last year.
The deal with Apple is seen as a boon for Tencent as it works to close in on Alipay in China. Alipay is ahead when it comes to making digital payments. According to the WSJ, citing data from iResearch Consulting Group, WeChat Pay controls 40 percent of the market in China while Alipay holds approximately 50 percent. In 2014, Alipay’s market share stood at approximately 80 percent, noted the report.
The move also comes as Tencent and Apple are becoming bigger rivals with the WeChat messaging app, which is hugely popular in China. China boasts the largest market for mobile phones. While Apple has called Tencent a partner, there are concerns in the marketplace that WeChat’s popularity could eat away at sales of iPhones, noted the report.
Recently, Tencent and Apple had a public dispute over purchases in the App Store, causing the current deal to raise some eyebrows. According to the WSJ, Apple required Tencent to disable a tip function on WeChat’s app earlier this year to comply with rules governing the App Store. The feature allowed users to give money tips to content creators. Apple viewed them as in-app purchases, of which the company gets 30 percent, reported the WSJ.