Chinese Internet giant Tencent announced today that it has taken a 20 percent stake in Dianping.com, a Chinese daily deals and local reviews site that is often compared to US-based Yelp, as it seeks to boost e-commerce on its messaging platforms QQ and Weixin (known as WeChat outside of China). 

Dianping has built itself up as the go-to platform in China for customer reviews since it was established in 2003. Other than providing local merchant listings and corresponding reviews, Dianping is also a group-buying platform that serves up money-saving deals.

Tencent says that it will integrate Dianping’s content, user base and offline merchant network accumulated over the past 10 years with its instant messaging platform QQ and wildly popular chat app Weixin to build up a strong “online-to-offline” ecosystem in China. This means that Dianping content — including merchant information, consumer reviews, discounted offers and group buying, as well as online restaurant reservations and take-out ordering services, can all be easily accessed by Weixin users.

Notably, Tencent says that the integration will help provide merchants online-to-offline commerce solutions on mobile Internet, hinting that we could very soon see more merchants jumping on board Weixin to sell items directly within the app.

In August last year, the company rolled out a long-awaited update to its mobile messaging app Weixin that incorporated payments. This paved the way for merchants to set up corporate accounts for people to follow, while WeChat would handle “technical integration and support for these vendors, including page design and payment linkups.”

Martin Lau, the president of Tencent, says the company is looking forward to”helping local businesses extend their consumer reach and deepen their consumer interaction.”

Tencent didn’t disclose the amount it paid for its investment in Dianping, but rumors previously suggested that Tencent bought a 20-25 percent stake at a valuation of $1.8 billion – $2 billion.

Essentially, with its latest move, Tencent is upping the ante of m-commerce, seeking to drive mobile shopping right within its communication platforms — which would pose a huge threat to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is already stepping up its mobile social efforts. Alibaba’s CEO Jonathan Lu has pledged to continue the e-commerce giant’s string of big investments as it continues focusing on improving its services for mobile.

Headline image via WeChat