Tencent-owned WeChat Pay, the digital wallet of its super app WeChat, may soon debut in India as a separate service on the back of India’s Unified Payments System (UPI). It is perhaps the first time when WeChat Pay, which is present in 49 countries, would be offered independently from WeChat.
Citing two sources from National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), Gurgaon-based tech portal Entrackr reported that senior Tencent executives met NPCI two weeks ago for obtaining a licence for full-fledged payments app. Tencent has a six-member team stationed at New Delhi to look after WeChat operations in India.
Tencent, sources said, has already partnered with three banks – Axis Bank, HDFC and ICICI. The service is likely to offer its own UPI handle (@wechat). The company is now in process of establishing an India entity for WeChat Pay, said the Entrackr report, attributing it to the company sources. The app is likely to be launched by end June of end.
According to a Technode report, Tencent’s WeChat Pay has around 900 million monthly active users (MAUs), while Ant Financial’s Alipay has over 500 million monthly active users. Together they captured over 90% of China’s payments market in 2018. Both giants are now going after overseas market, focussing on the destinations Chinese outbound travellers frequent to.
Digital payments in India is set to touch USD 1 trillion by 2023, according to Credit Suisse. In India, WeChat will compete with home-grown payments services like Paytm, PhonePe, Mobikwik, and multinationals including Google, WhatsApp and Amazon. All these companies have already launched UPI-enabled payment services.
Tencent debuted in India with WeChat in 2012. But despite spending heavily on marketing, the social media app foundered in the country. Last year, the tech behemoth, finally saw some success in India when it launched PUBG, a mobile-based survival game. Tencent may ride on the success of PUBG in India and make WeChat Pay a default payment option for the game’s in-app purchase.