In 2013, wildly popular Chinese messaging service WeChat (users in China get a version known as Weixin) expanded its services and progressed toward becoming a platform — notably incorporating payment services.
Now China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, is also taking the same route as it seeks to capture eyeballs and sustain its user growth. The latest update to Sina Weibo’s iOS app (hat/tip Tech in Asia) has introduced a feature known as ‘Weibo Payment,’ — or termed ‘Wallet’ within the app, so “paying online is just a tap away.”
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However, there are no details yet as to how this would work yet, though it seems like this is a natural progression from Sina Weibo’s link with e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Last year, the two teamed up to launch a “Weibo-Taobao” platform to make it easier for customers on Weibo to shop on e-commerce site Taobao. The collaboration basically allowed users to buy products directly on the Twitter-like microblogging platform. A new type of display for Taobao products was launched on Sina Weibo — a “name card” of sorts showing more details instead of just a link to the listing, including pricing, store credit rating, and the popularity of the product. To make it even more convenient to purchase products from Taobao directly on Sina Weibo, a “Buy” button on the virtual card was also released.
It looks like the two companies are making it easier for users to click “Buy” directly within the Sina Weibo app, then move to pay right within the app as well. An Android app update is likely to be rolled out in the near future to add in this payment feature as well.
Sina has experimented in the past with third-party payments. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi’s now infamous flash deal was conducted on Weibo using the then trial-only WeiboPay, and the company now has a ‘Weibo Wallet‘ service — which could very likely be linked to the payment feature on Sina Weibo.
Previously, Sina already admitted that it believes time spent on Weibo is down because of competition from rival Tencent’s WeChat messaging service. It is therefore no surprise that the company wants to boost its app with other services as well — but WeChat has already taken a huge step forward in this and Weibo has much to catch up with, though its link with Alibaba will no doubt stand it in good stead.
Headline image via Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images