China’s mobile payments market is heating up, with nearly $1.6 trillion in transactions made in 2013. Now search giant Baidu has jumped into the fray to offer up a mobile wallet service as well, seeking to compete with the two other Internet giants, Alibaba and Tencent, for a slice of the pie.
“We saw that developers/partners have needs in retaining users and payment services, which is why we launched Baidu Wallet,” Baidu’s Vice President Li Mingyuan, who is in charge of its Mobile and Cloud Business Group, says.
Baidu Wallet, which will be fully released in late April, provides similar services to other payment apps in China’s market now — it currently offers interbank transfers for free and lets you pay for online purchases and utility bills, among others, via its Baifubao third-party payment solution. Other than that, Baidu will also connect its money management products at 8.baidu.com with Baidu Wallet in the near future.
Businesses and developers can access Baidu’s payments SDK to link up with consumers and online users from Baidu. The company claims that it is providing the lowest fee in the entire industry for the first 10,000 businesses that connect to its payments solution.
To further promote Baidu Wallet, the company is also sending out CNY1 billion ($160.8 million) worth of coupons that give users cash discounts when they use the app to pay at specific businesses. In the future, those who use Baidu Wallet to complete their purchases in other Baidu products such as its music service, will also receive discounts.
It may take some time for Baidu Wallet to gain traction though, considering that it’s rather late to the game. Alibaba’s Alipay has a solid footing in China’s mobile payments industry — as of late last year, it has about a 50 percent market share in China’s e-payment market, and claims that about 25,000 Alipay mobile transactions take place every minute, resulting in a daily transaction value of more than CNY20 billion ($3.3 billion). In the meantime, Tencent’s Tenpay is rapidly growing because of its integration with popular messaging service WeChat since August last year.
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