17 February 2019

Smaller, quieter, later, Baidu slips onto online payment stage

Search giant Baidu (BIDU.US) quietly launched its very own online payment service — {百付寶} — last week, apparently inspired by the runaway success of rival Alibaba.

Within just three months, Alibaba’s online investment product, Yu’E Bao, grew exponentially to nearly 50 billion yuan (US$ 8.17 billion) in early September, according to reports. And the figure is expected to double by the end of the year.

But as a latecomer, Baidu knows it has to do something different to attract customers.

Mainland media report that Baidu is in talks with several big fund houses including ChinaAMC. The company wants the funds to design a product exclusively for Baidu users, one that offers a better return than Yu’E Bao.

Baidu is said to be setting an 8 percent per annum yield target for the investment product, a rate that would put it ahead of Yu’E Bao’s 5 percent annualized return for a seven-day period.

Baifubao was granted third-party payment licenses in July, and that is only part of Baidu’s financial services platform.

The group has also rolled out microcredit service Baidujinrong {百度金融} as well as mobile payment service baiduqianbao SDK {百度錢包}, which handles in-game payments, SIM card recharges and other banking payment services.

On top of that, Baidu has been marketing its finance, securities and wealth management services through Weibo, the most popular Chinese microblogging site.

Unlike Alibaba, Baidu doesn’t have access to a huge retail user base and its customers are a few million small and mid-sized companies. By adding finance to its other mobile services, including Baidu Map and app distribution platform 91 Wireless, Baidu may stand a better chance of competing with other internet heavyweights for the fast-expanding pool of smartphone-based users.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


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