Apple has informed some Chinese media outlets that WeChat users in China can now use WeChat Pay in the App Store and for Apple Music subscriptions. WeChat Pay is extremely popular in China, so this is definitely going to boost sales for Apple there. WeChat Pay is widely used by physical stores as well as online stores across the country and has a huge user base. Apple Pay is a direct competitor, so while going to boost sales, is an interesting move by Apple. “We are glad to offer users in mainland China the option of WeChat Pay for their favorite mobile app or Apple Music products. We continue to be dedicated to provide multiple simple and convenient payment methods for customers within the Apple ecosystem,” Apple said in an official statement today.
In addition, Apple also accepts Alipay as a payment service in the App STore. Alipay is the most popular mobile payment service in China with a market share of 53.7 percent. WePay accounts for approximately 40 percent of the market share. So I think this only makes sense that Apple is trying to get into the game.
For those of you not familiar with WeChat, it is a Chinese social media app. It has instant messaging capabilities but also offers payment services in there. Which is what Apple is trying to do with Apple Pay, and now integrating it into your iMessages. WeChat also has some other features built into it which are kind of Facebook or Instagram-like. It sounds like a one-stop shop. But, you can also hail a cab, watch videos and play mini games. Some believe that WeChat is actually a threat to Apple because it reduces its competitive advantage in China. And maybe it does. After all, China has an extremely large population. So is this why Apple was so quick to allow WeChat payment for their apps?
That’s a possibility. But that’s not what Apple is saying. Apple CEO, Tim Cook recently said that WeChat’s creator Tencent is one of their most important developers. “I see Tencent as one of our biggest and best developers,” said Cook, speaking on a conference call in early August. “They’ve done a great job of implementing iOS features in their apps, and we’re looking forward to working with them even more to build even greater experiences for our mutual users in China.” Which looks more like a partnership than a competitor.
Or maybe it’s just lip service. Apple Pay was launched in mainland China back in early 2016. But they haven’t made any progress in what might be one of their most crucial markets. Which could mean that his move is more pragmatic than anything. It also suggests that maybe Apple has given up hope for Apple Pay to make any kind of significant progress in the future.
This is also a huge win for WeChat. Essentially forcing Apple to accept it into the Apple ecosystem. Which isn’t a position Apple usually finds themselves in. It’s really hard to determine who wins and who loses in all of this. Other than WeChat. I mean, is there more to the story? Could Apple have something up their sleeve? Or is this just Apple giving up the fight to WeChat? It’s hard to say what happened, or didn’t happen. Or what will happen in the future.