Since Alipay secretly launched the mini-program in October last year, there was no news about its official version or related promotional activity. On July 31st, 2018, Alipay announced that it would officially launch the mini-program this week.
WeChat Mini Program was launched at the beginning of 2017, and later in the year, the beta version of Alipay Mini Program was released in September. Users can access the mini-program page by scanning the QR code, opening the link shared by their friends, or browsing the Alipay app. The page integrates the mini programs offered by the developers and consists of three parts: “Recently used”, “Topics” and “Recommended”. Recently, some users found that “Mini Program Favourites” appeared on Alipay’s homepage, which is similar to WeChat, allowing users to collect their favourite and frequently-used applets.
Unlike WeChat, the Alipay mini-program, with the benefits of Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial Services, provides more financial services capabilities, such as real-name authentication and credit authorisation. The differences in product nature – WeChat is more “social”, while Alipay focuses on e-commerce and payment – will also be reflected in their mini-programs.
It is worth noting that WeChat recently provided applet access to e-commerce businesses and enabled advertising components. Tencent hopes that through the use of the mini-program, advertising revenue will be increased. In the meantime, Alipay tapped the social field. For example, in June of this year, Starbuck’s mini-program fell on Alipay, allowing users to send gift vouchers to friends and set the sending time as well. Mini-program is expected to enhance the social engagement of users with Alipay.
In addition to WeChat and Alipay, Baidu has taken a step towards launching its intelligent mini-program this month. This means that all three Chinese internet giants have developed mini-programs. Although they have very different characteristics and will satisfy different needs, one thing is for sure that the competition of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) in the mini program is unavoidable.
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