China’s Sina increases its focus on social commerce with plans to launch online banking services

China’s Sina increases its focus on social commerce with plans to launch online banking services ...

Sina, the Chinese tech giant behind microblogging platform Sina Weibo, announced yesterday that it will roll out an online banking platform in September.

According to the Beijing News (h/t via Tech in Asia) the new service, titled WeiBank, will allow consumers services to make financial transactions, complete bank transfers, make remittances, manage credit cards, and do other money-related tasks online.

Sina has yet to disclose specific details of business model, and the degree to which the product is integrated with Sina’s other products – which, in addition to Sina Weibo, include the news portal – is unknown.

Sina Weibo has experimented in the past with third-party payments. Xiaomi’s now infamous flash deal was conducted on Weibo using the then trial-only WeiboPay, and the company now has a “Weibo Wallet,” but WeiBank will presumably allow for more sophisticated financial transactions.

Of course, given Alibaba’s recent purchase of an 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo, it’s likely that WeiBank will be tied in with Sina Weibo in some capacity (the  name similarity – Weibo, WeiBank – is an indicator as well). With China’s leading online e-commerce company now officially a partial owner of the microblog, some have expected Sina Weibo to tilt towards social commerce. Buying shoes and managing investments aren’t intrinsically social activities, but both can have their place on a social network where money is flowing.

The announcement comes as Sina continues to revamp Sina Weibo with an eye towards monetization. Last year the site introduced a Google+ style layout that granted advertisers more opportunities to promote their products, and also rolled out a VIP-tier subscription offering special features to paying users of the social network.

Earlier this month Sina-competitor Tencent announced it would introduce its own third-party payment platform for WeChat, China’s leading chat app with over 195 million monthly active users. The product is currently in beta testing and is expected to be made available to the public in the next version of WeChat.

Sina recorded a net revenue of $126 million for Q1 2013, up about 20 percent year-on-year. Within that same period, its advertising revenue jumped 20 percent to $94.3 million, and non-advertising revenue spiked 14 percent to $31.7 million.

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