Saturday, October 23, 2021

Alibaba opens apps to support rival’s payment service under Beijing’s investigation

Analysis

China’s biggest internet corporations are destroying their closed ecosystem amid tough regulations imposed by Beijing on its tech giants. The latest example came when Alibaba Group this week allowed rival Tencent’s payment system to integrate with some of its apps.

Such practices have come under scrutiny from Chinese regulators, who have introduced new rules in areas ranging from data protection to anti-monopoly.

Along with Alipay, an existing payment service operated by its affiliate Ant Group, Alibaba now allows users to buy items on some of its apps through WeChat Pay, a payment service run by rival Tencent.

Alibaba confirmed the change on September 28 with state-run media The Paper, adding that “the company will continue to seek common ground with peers to better serve consumers.”

Alibaba reportedly added some online services to accept WeChat Pay, including its food delivery app Ele.me, video service Youku, online ticketing platform Damai, e-book reader Shuqi; Its Used goods marketplace Idol Fish, online grocery store Hema and other apps will soon support Tencent’s payments service.

Consumers in China are more accustomed to transacting on a daily basis using Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant’s Alipay instead of cash or credit cards. Both services have nearly a billion users and have historically blocked links to rivals’ content from within their services.

The country’s internet sector has long been dominated by an ecosystem built around the two giants. Through its app, users can access a wide range of services from grocery shopping to flights and hotel booking services. Without leaving these apps, people can pay for most of their goods and services.

Top technology regulators have ordered big internet companies to stop blocking links to each other’s content as part of a broader campaign to curb their growing monopoly power over data.

According to the 21st Century Business Herald, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) convened a guidance meeting on 9 September on issues such as blocking links with some tech giants. Attendees included companies listed on the New York or Hong Kong stock exchanges, such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Xiaomi, etc.

A few days later, Tencent’s messaging app, WeChat, started allowing users to access external links. Previously, it did not allow its users to click on links sent via chat, for example, product listings from Alibaba’s online Taobao marketplace.

Changes are taking place as Chinese authorities continue to tighten regulations in the Internet sector. The integration of WeChat Pay with Alibaba’s apps is clear to go a step further.

In April, China’s antitrust regulators fined Alibaba a record $2.75 billion for anti-competitive behavior.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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