Chinese internet giant Tencent said monthly active users of its mobile payments services increased sevenfold in 2015.
In particular, the firm’s annual results touted the performance of payment services offered via the Weixin (known as WeChat outside China) messaging app.
Although Tencent did not reveal how much it is making from its payment business, it gave a sense of scale with one statistic.
The handling fees paid to banks for Weixin Pay, mainly arising from money transfers, increased “significantly” for January 2016, it said. Net of related revenue received from users, Tencent paid out more than CNY300 million ($46 million) to banks in the month.
To manage these cost pressures, it introduced a new pricing policy from 1 March. The company now charges users Weixin Pay balance withdrawal fees if the accumulated sum a user transfers from their mobile wallet to their bank account exceeds a certain amount.
In parallel, the company will no longer charge users of Weixin Pay for money transfer.
Tencent chief executive Pony Ma said during the results that the bank fee is equivalent to 0.1 percent of each transaction, reported Reuters. Hence, such transactions on Weixin Pay totalled more than CNY300 billion in January.
And that figure is only for money transfers, and does not include transactions such as paying for taxis, restaurants and digital content.
If that pace continues for the rest of the year, Tencent will carry at least CNY3.6 trillion across its system in 2016. That would make Weixin Pay nearly twice the size of PayPal, which carried $282 billion in transactions during 2015.
Total users of the Weixin (WeChat) messaging app reached 697 million at end-2015, a 39 per cent increase year-on-year.