Google steps up global fight for digital wallet as China dominates mobile payments
Mobile payment transactions in China added up to more than US$12.8 trillion last year, making it the world’s largest mobile payments market. Now US tech giants are playing catch up.
To get a sense of how pervasive mobile payments have become in China, consider that on the eve of this year’s Spring Festival, 668 million people on Tencent Holding’s WeChat app sent virtual hongbao – digital red packets containing money – to friends and family as part of their well wishes for the new year.
Now western tech giants are accelerating efforts to tap into the market, with Google this week launching Google Pay in a move that rebrands and unifies its previous mobile payment apps as it rolls out new features and plays catch-up with Chinese payment services like WeChat Pay and Alipay.
“China started using credit cards much later, and there were major security concerns with using them for online payments. This allowed mobile payments systems to flourish as they existed independently from vulnerable bank accounts,” said Michael Yeo, research manager for financial and retail insights at IDC.
“Western technology players have been somewhat slower to move into the mobile payments field due to the lack of perceived need.”
Google’s move comes as tech companies across the world scramble to up their game and carve out a slice of the fast-growing mobile payments market. With Alibaba-affiliated Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay focusing on Chinese users at home and abroad, the global market is still up for grabs for companies like Google, Apple and Samsung.
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