WeChat users can unlock the new feature from the messaging app and transfer money to the receiver’s WeChat wallet by entering a phone number — even if both parties are not friends. The feature is currently available only on iOS.
Ant Financial’s Alipay — WeChat Pay’s rival — launched a comparative feature in 2012 that lets users send and receive funds using a mobile number or email addresses.
Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have also launched payment features using a mobile phone number.
WeChat Pay has over 1 billion users and is one of the most popular payment methods in China.
WeChat’s eWallet had a daily transaction volume of more than 1 billion last year. In fact, merchants that used WeChat Pay on a monthly basis grew more than 80 percent year over year (YOY).
The company also noted a first-of-its-kind, cross-border, mobile payment service launched last year, which enables WeChat Pay Hong Kong users to conduct RMB-denominated transactions funded by Hong Kong dollars, with the transaction volume of WeChat Pay Hong Kong increasing more than 10 times YOY. In addition, there was the launch of WeChat Pay Malaysia in August.
While Tencent reported lower-than-expected net profits in its fourth-quarter earnings, WeChat and some other emerging businesses have seen significant growth. The company revealed that its Q4 net profit declined 32 percent to ¥14.2 billion ($2.1 billion USD), falling below analysts’ prediction of ¥18.3 billion. The decline was due to expenses for its portfolio companies and non-gaming investments.
“Payment is one of the key infrastructure platforms of the company, enabling us and our merchant partners to complete transactions for online and offline services,” according to a Tencent report. “We extended our market leadership as the leading mobile payment platform by active users and the number of transactions in China.”