Chinese customers can now pay for the purchases they make on Apple’s App Store using WeChat Pay, a service offered by Tencent Holdings. This was announced amidst tensions between the two tech companies after Tencent launched a mini-program apps that is widely viewed as competing with the App Store. According to App Annie, a mobile analytics firm, the Chinese market led all other markets in the revenues that Apple generated from the App Store which reached a figure of $2.2 billion.
“We are committed to offering customers across our ecosystem a variety of payment options that are simple and convenient,” read a statement from Apple announcing the development.
40% market share
The latest victory by Tencent comes even as the Chinese tech giant faces challenges from the Alibaba-owned mobile payments platform, Alipay. Currently WeChat Pay’s share of the Chinese market is about 40%. Alipay’s market share, on the other hand, is currently at around 50% having fallen from a high of 80% three years ago. Apple already accepts payments via Alipay having started accepting the method of payment back in late 2016. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant had also begun accepting UnionPay, a state-backed payments network, in 2014.
In China, WeChat has gained huge popularity as it serves a variety of functions including entertainment, social messaging, and mobile payments. It currently has monthly active users exceeding one billion. According to some analysts there is so much time spent on WeChat by users of smartphones in China that sales of Apple’s upcoming iPhone could be hurt. This is because consumers will not see the need of upgrading their smartphones as long as they are able to access the WeChat platform.
Apple Pay struggling
Apple has previously indicated that it views Tencent as a partner. Earlier in the month during an earnings call Apple’s chief executive officer Tim Cook branded the Chinese firm as one of the best and biggest developers the iPhone maker works with.
Apple’s move to accept payments via WeChat Pay however coincide with the struggles the tech firm has encountered in gaining traction with Apple Pay after having launched it in China last year in May. According to iResearch, Apple Pay’s Chinese footprint is currently negligible.