The mobile app of Taobao, a leading Chinese online shopping platform operated by Alibaba, has begun to provide the option to use Tencent’s WeChat Pay. Although the payment function currently does not support automatically shifting between Taobao and WeChat, the development marks a key step towards the greater integration of payment services offered by Chinese internet giants. However, this feature is still in the alpha testing stage, and only some users have been able to access it.
Domestic media outlet Beijing Business Today reported on Monday that according to published screenshots taken by web users, some can see payment options on Taobao that include “Scan WeChat QR Code” and “Send to a WeChat Friend” within the checkout page.
The “Scan WeChat QR Code” function is different from direct access to, or “shifting to,” the WeChat app. Instead, once reaching the order submission page, users need to scan a transaction code within WeChat. This means that users need to take a screenshot to save the code. Then, they have to switch to WeChat manually to scan the code. Meanwhile, the second option, “Send to a WeChat Friend” means sending the payment link to a WeChat contact for completion of the payment.
Wang Pengbo, a senior analyst from market consultancy Botong Analysys, issued the following comments: “This is an important step in the payment interconnection between the two giants. Tencent payment products can now enter the Alibaba ecosystem. WeChat, therefore, has expanded to become an important online e-commerce scenario. For merchants and users on Taobao, there is now one more option for payment, which will offer benefits including the reduction of merchants’ operating costs and a more advantageous user experience.”
However, according to feedback from users, the way of paying by scanning a transaction code via screenshots and sharing links has also attracted some ridicule, including that “it is too troublesome to pay by screenshots” and that “full interconnection should be open as soon as possible.” Wang Pengbo added, “If the process and links of the new payment method are complicated, it is expected that it will be difficult to change the habits of users on Taobao.”
Since September last year, driven by the shifting approach of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other governmental departments, the blocking of links between Tencent, Alibaba, ByteDance and other major domestic internet platforms has gradually begun to loosen.