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Alipay rumored to launch mini-app feature soon

By Sheila Yu for TechNode

Alipay, the online and mobile payment platform operated by Alibaba’s Ant Financial, is rumored to be launching its mini-app function next week, competing head-on with WeChat’s mini-app feature.

Users will be able to access this feature by scanning a QR code with the scanner on the Alipay app.

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Alipay mini-apps reportedly will endeavor to allocate and distribute traffic to offline channels, unlike WeChat’s mini-app function, which has been seeking to draw traffic to its own app.

In addition, it’s said that Alipay users will be able to add their mini-apps on the front page of their app and sort them in the order of importance to these users. This is a marked improvement to WeChat’s “fairly buried” and random-ordered ones.

WeChat officially launched its mini-app feature in January, enabling users to access mobile services directly in-app while freeing users from an endless loop of app installing and uninstalling. While it debuted to excitement from the developer community, it has gotten a lukewarm reception due to its limited use cases.

To improve the situation, WeChat announced in late April the creation of its search application department, and the launch of a new feature called “store mini-app” (门店小程序), widely seen as its efforts to up the ante on its mini-apps.

The Alipay-WeChat battle reflects the cutthroat contest between their parents Alibaba and Tencent, which have been engaged in an all-out war at home and abroad in a wide range of businesses from internet finance to O2O e-commerce and more.

Tencent’s market cap topped US$ 301 billion when the market closed on May 2, trailed by Alibaba’s US$ 279 billion.

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