Tencent’s evolution into the payment industry
Tencent’s understanding of its wide customer base has allowed its successful transformation into the payment market, changing the ways in which transactions are carried out in Asia forever.
The multi-conglomerate Tencent has moved across industries since its creation in 1998. Originally a platform that created online multiplayer games such as League of Legends, it moved into the instant messenger service, QQ. According to the Senior Product Director of Tencent, Wendy Sun, who spoke at Money 20/20 2019, Tencent wished to adapt alongside its customers, who “changed from the PC to the mobile phone age.” This sparked the creation of WeChat in 2011.
In 2013, WeChat Pay was launched and the company moved into the finance space with the creation of WeBank (China) two years later in 2015, before beginning to expand overseas to Hong Kong and the Malaysian markets in 2013, 2016 and 2018, as Tencent began to establish itself as a key player in the financial payments industry.
Sun shared one innovation that has had a great influence with the launch of the payment app. “In 2014, Tencent’s WeChat fundamentally changed the game, by allowing you to send the digital red packet to your friends or to your chat group. Traditionally, the hóngbāo, the Red Packet was only given between family and friends for good luck during the Chinese New Year period.”
Sun explained that WeChat Pay enables almost all aspects of the average Chinese person’s life. “As well as connecting people with each other, WeChat Pay also connects people with services.” If an individual leaves the house with their phone, then they do not have the need for money or a wallet, as WeChat Pay enables them to shop without these items. WeChat Pay is now the most popular payment network in China, with over 1bn users. “This total mobile internet solution brings the convenience to people's lives.”
Tencent also expanded their financial technology to offer the “boutique” wealth management, lending and insurance service, Licaitong. According to Sun, as of September 2018, “Licaitong became the second largest online wealth management platform in China with more than ¥500bn in aggregated customer assets.”
WeChat Pay has not only had a strong domestic impact, but has also cultivated an ease of service for Chinese users internationally. Sun noted that, in 2018, Chinese tourists made up 149mn trips, a 14.7% increase from the previous year. When Chinese tourists travel abroad, they can use WeChat to complete transactions with Tencent organising the currency exchange through the app. Tencent also has a program embedded in the app for tax refunds. This includes refunds in real time at 83 airports in 20 countries.
Further innovation has allowed the company to improve the lives of its users. “Tencent is passionate about improving people's quality of life through technology,” said Sun, going on to discuss We Return, Tencent’s product designed to assist in the smooth transactions of several thousand domestic helpers who work in Hong Kong, but who are originally from the Philippines and Indonesia. She emphasised that these helpers work 6 days a week, and will spend three hours queuing in central Hong Kong to send money home just to settle remittance.
“At Tencent, we launched the ‘We Remit’ through our WeChat Pay Hong Kong Wallet. We give all the helpers a hassle free, real time remittance service. Just from a simple click, all the helpers can send the money to their distant relatives, instantly.”
Tencent’s expansion is constant, but adapts its services to suit each region. In South East Asia, Tencent got its e-money license, from Central Bank of Malaysia in 2017. In South East Asia, Tencent received its e-money license from the Central Bank of Malaysia in 2017, and has since grown its customer base in the region to over 20mn registered users. A similar product to the red packet was released in the region, only to suit Malaysia’s local festivals. “More than that, we also help the Malaysian local merchants use our platform to engage customers through the whole WeChat ecosystem,” said Sun.
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To understand Tencent’s commitment to creating a beneficial product to its user base, Sun shared the three questions that the company asks itself when developing a new product. “What kind of product do we need to provide the customer? What value can we add to the service we provide to our customers, and what is actual difference we can bring to the market?”
“Tencent’s strategy is to connect everything. From the beginning we connect people with each other and then create the ecosystem. We want to connect the customer with the services. The key is to understand your customer to enable them to receive real value-added service, which they really want to do on your platform.”
Tink partners with Novalnet AG for open banking payments
The Munich-based fintech Novalnet AG, which was founded in 2007 and is one of Europe’s leadingfintech companies, has announced a new partnership with Tink, the Swedish open banking platform currently connected to more than 3,400 European banks.
Novalnet AG delivers payment solutions and fully automated services, from checkout to debt collection. Its solutions are also available worldwide.
According to reports, the fintech company plans to launch a real-time payments feature for merchants across Europe, to expand its current services and enhance the transaction experience it operates through its platform.
The new feature, says Novalnet, will revolutionise payments for ecommerce with transactions being credited to merchant’s accounts almost instantly.
Novalnet partnership with Tink
By partnering with Tink for payment initiation services (PIS) technology, Novalnet will take previous region-specific payment methods and offer a new unified digital payments service to its merchants across Europe.
The fintech’s real-time merchant payments feature, which will be launched initially in Germany and the United Kingdom, will then be integrated across other European markets during 2021.
Speaking about the new collaboration, Emmanuel Kirse, COO of Novalnet, explained, "We expect great things from our strategic partnership with Tink, which is a significant development for both parties.
“With Tink, Novalnet can offer a new set of open banking-related solutions in Europe. The new opportunities offered by this partnership will help both Tink and Novalnet grow together, along with our merchants."
Cyrosch Kalateh, Regional Director for the DACH region at Tink said, “Our partnership with Novalnet is a big step for Tink in the German market, and we are excited to work together to bring new, innovative payments services to merchants across Europe.”
He added, “At the end of 2020 Tink committed to expanding its payment initiation services from five to 10 markets, fuelled by an €85mn investment round. We are proud to add Germany to this list by announcing we have now fully launched Tink’s PIS services in this market.”
Image credit: Novalnet AG