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A high security digital unit built by Motion Pay, that allows customers to pay in Chinese yuan using online money payment services WeChat Pay and Alipay.   © Reuters

China's online payments duopoly of one

Alipay will lead WeChat Pay thanks to superior shopping and investment options

| China
  • China's online payments market may be a duopoly but it is one in which Alipay dominates upstart rival WeChat Pay, according to FT Confidential Research's latest consumer survey.
  • We believe Alipay will maintain its lead thanks to its integration with Alibaba's dominant e-commerce platforms and Yu'E Bao, though regulatory pressure is building on that big money market fund.
  • Alipay stands a greater chance globally than WeChat Pay, which will struggle against the dominance of Facebook and WhatsApp beyond the Great Chinese Firewall.

The story of China's march towards a cashless society is about Alipay versus WeChat Pay. Among respondents to an FTCR survey of 1,000 urban Chinese, 82.6 per cent chose Alibaba's Alipay as one of their three main payment methods, while 64.3 per cent picked Tencent's WeChat (see chart).

Other forms of payment were also-rans; UnionPay QuickPass, owned by the state-run card payment system, was chosen by just 6.6 per cent. Apple Pay's popularity may have surged in China during the past year but it was still chosen by just 3.2 per cent of respondents (Apple is now intensifying its marketing push in China in co-operation with UnionPay).

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