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Tencent’s WeChat rides mobile payments wave

Tencent is not only China’s largest social network and online entertainment firm, it is now big in mobile payments.

The company has quietly built one of the world’s largest mobile payments systems, with transactions

Alipay and Tenpay accounted for 93.4% market share in China mobile payment market in 2014

        Alipay and Tenpay accounted for 93.4% market share                                     in China mobile payment market in 2014

which could total more than $500 billion this year, according to Reuters calculations.

While most of Tencent’s money still comes from online gaming, it  also developed WeChat which had 697 million monthly active users at the end of December, up from 650 million at the end of September.

Tencent is building new businesses on WeChat, including gaming, social advertising akin to Facebook, and mobile banking. Tencent does not disclose whether it is making money from its mobile payments business.

However Tencent’s fourth quarterly earnings report, which showed overall revenue grew at its quickest rate in three years and beat analysts’ estimates, also revealed how much it paid banks in fees for customers sending each other money via WeChat.

These fees, which Tencent Chief Executive Pony Ma said amount to 0.1 percent of each transaction, were more than 300 million yuan in January. That would mean such transactions on WeChat Payment totaled over 300 billion yuan ($46 billion) that month, according to Reuters calculations.

And this figure does not include transactions for popular services such as paying for taxis, restaurants and online media like video games and music.

If that pace continues for the rest of the year, Tencent will see at least 3.6 trillion yuan ($556 billion) transacted across WeChat Payment in 2016. That would make it almost twice as big as all of PayPal’s $282 billion in transactions in 2015.

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