I was interviewed by a reporter from Hong Kong Free Press about virtual red packets. It’s a favorite feature in Tencent’s all-encompassing app WeChat. Tencent introduced mobile payment two years ago to combat with Alibaba’s Alipay. Mobile payment in WeChat became popular when Tencent gave away virtual red packets to television audiences watching the annual Lunar New Year variety show on the state broadcaster.
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.