About a year ago, Alipay, China’s leading mobile payment app owned by Alibaba, introduced mini programs. These light applications rivaled those of Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, which provided a variety of services ranging from food delivery to live streaming to much more.
While similar, there are some notable differences. First, Alipay’s mini programs load like web pages, but perform like web apps. Users do not have to download. Instead, they scan a QR code to access. Second, Alipay allows developers into its system, whereas WeChat mini programs integrate services and payment methods outside of its platform. For example, retailers develop their own mini programs and then tie it to customer loyalty programs and marketing campaigns in WeChat. Third, even though Alibaba’s mobile wallet app lacks the social component of Tencent’s, it offers more advanced financial products within the app’s platform, like deposit-free services and virtual credit.
Benefits for brands
While both embed services like rental cars into its dashboard, WeChat’s mini programs focus on social sharing and entertainment and Alipay’s mini programs focus on financial services and mobile transactions. The key appeal to brands is having access to payment solutions, such as electronic management of membership cards and e-invoices, without having to develop it, which reduces operational costs. As a result, Alipay’s mini programs help businesses acquire customers and operate more efficiently while enhancing the experience for users.
Both WeChat and Alipay have been in advancing their mobile payment service and expanding overseas. For international brands seeking to grow their business, utilizing mini programs on both platforms would be most effective to appeal to Chinese consumers and tourists.
To learn more about best practices for promoting your business in China, contact Tolmao Group, an integrated marketing agency that combines traditional marketing tools with innovative approaches, creative thinking, and a full understanding of the Chinese market.