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Bytedance unveils Douyin mobile payment tool to rival Alipay, WeChat

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TikTok’s Chinese owner has rolled out an e-wallet feature on its Douyin video-sharing app, a move that could pose a significant threat to the Alipay and WeChat duopoly in China’s mobile payment sector.

Why it matters: Douyin, the domestic version of TikTok, is one of China’s most used apps with 600 million monthly active users as of September.

  • Bytedance’s ambition to tap into the payment sector have long been hampered by China’s strict finance regulations. The company in September inherited (in Chinese) a payment license from a small payment firm based in the central province of Hubei it acquired two years ago.
  • E-commerce behemoth Alibaba’s Alipay and internet firm Tencent’s WeChat Pay, a feature inside the instant messaging app WeChat, are the two dominant players in the market. Together they hold nearly 95% of China’s online payment market, according to iResearch (in Chinese), a market research firm.

Details: Douyin recently added Douyin Pay onto its checkout page, Chinese media reported Tuesday. The payment method allows users to buy virtual gifts for livestreamers and pay for goods on the app’s e-commerce platform.

  • Bytedance said in a statement to TechNode that Douyin Pay was rolled out by the company to “supplement the existing major payment options.” A Bytedance spokesperson said the feature had been available for a while and was previously in test mode.
  • The app previously supported WeChat Pay and Alipay. Douyin Pay allows users to link cards from 10 banks including Bank of China and China Merchants Bank.
  • Payments are processed by Ulpay, the Hubei-based firm it acquired in 2018.

Context: An in-house payment tool is essential to many of Bytedance’s offerings, including e-commerce and lending services.

  • Bytedance is building an e-commerce platform on Douyin around its active livestreaming community. The business model, known as livestreaming e-commerce, has seen massive growth in China since 2019.
  • The company in October 2019 launched a lending app, providing users with consumer credit, installment payments, and credit card services. Douyin had also recently launched Dou Fenqi (literally translated as Dou Installments), a feature that allows users to pay their bills in monthly installments, Chinese media reported.