Tencent Holdings has partnered up with China’s three biggest telecommunications operators, allowing users of digital wallets from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom to make payments by scanning WeChat QR codes, in the tech giant’s latest effort to improve interoperability of internet services under Beijing’s directive.
“In recent years, WeChat Pay has continued to push for openness and interconnectivity with various organisations in multiple scenarios,” Tencent’s WeChat team said in an announcement on Friday, adding that it has worked with close to 30 banks and several payments organisations on similar services.
Tencent’s move comes amid Beijing’s calls to dismantle the “walled gardens” operated by China’s Big Tech firms, which have long built barriers around their ecosystems and blocked links to rival services.
In 2021, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced it had been giving guidance to internet companies as they conducted self-rectification measures to unblock external website links.
The government initiative formed part of a wider regulatory crackdown by Beijing on issues such as monopolistic practices, cybersecurity and consumer rights.
In that same year, WeChat Pay opened up its ecosystem to state-owned UnionPay, the country’s top bank card clearing service. Mini programs on WeChat were all allowed to use UnionPay’s Cloud QuickPass, and consumers could scan the WeChat Pay code through the Cloud QuickPass app for offline payments in provincial capitals.
Despite ongoing efforts to break down the virtual walls between tech services, internet users still cannot move money directly between WeChat Pay and Ant Group’s Alipay – China’s two leading mobile-payment systems that together account for over 90 per cent of the domestic market.
Last year, Alipay tested a roundabout way for its users to transfer funds to WeChat Pay users. The trial service allowed a limited number of Alipay users to generate a QR code to send to WeChat users, who could then use Alipay to scan the code and receive money.
This past September, China’s head of digital yuan Mu Changchun urged WeChat Pay, Alipay and banking apps run by commercial banks to unify the technical standards of their e-CNY payment QR codes in the near term, and to eventually make the digital yuan a payment option across “all retail scenarios”.
WeChat, which has 1.3 billion monthly active users, on Friday said it has supported the use of China’s official digital currency in the Tencent app’s electronic wallet, short-video functions and mini programs. South China Morning Post