While WeChat celebrated its fifth birthday on January 22, WeChat Pay is only commemorating its second anniversary on Friday. Tencent completed internal testing and opened up WeChat Pay to verified service accounts such as enterprises and brick-and-mortar stores on March 4, 2014.
Tencent said in the company’s 2015 third quarter results that WeChat has amassed 650 million monthly active users. The platform is the world’s fourth most popular messaging app after WhatsApp, QQ Mobile and Facebook Messenger, according to statistics firm Statista.
Tencent also reported in the same earnings report that over 200 million users have linked their bank cards on WeChat. WeChat Pay is stuck at a distant second of 15.9% in the mobile payment market in China, trailing behind Alibaba’s Alipay, which has 71.5% of the market share, according to internet data research firm Analysys.
When Apple chose China to be the first Asian market to expand its mobile payment service Apple Pay to, most China watchers knew the iPhone maker would face stiff competition in the country’s already-crowded mobile payment market.
Mobile payment became popular in China in 2013. Alibaba developed Alipay Wallet independently in November 2013 as the number of people using Alipay on their mobile devices rose to 100 million, according to Sina Tech. Alipay, developed in 2004, originally existed to provide online payment service for Alibaba’s marketplaces: Taobao and Tmall.
Tencent followed suit to launch WeChat Payment in March 2014, providing a mobile payment service for WeChat users. WeChat, with its 650 million monthly active users, is the world’s fourth most popular messaging app after WhatsApp, QQ Mobile, and Facebook Messenger as of January, according to statistics firm Statista.