Bilibili (or B site), the Chinese video-sharing website, has obtained an online payment license after acquiring a majority stake in an online payment company, in preparations to launch its own e-payment service for more than 223 million monthly active users, according to the Chinese media outlet Caixin.
In a deal worth 118 million RMB ($18.5 million), Bilibili acquired a 65.5% stake in Zhejiang Yong Yi Payment Co. Ltd from the third-party payment firm’s state-owned shareholders, as revealed by Ningbo Public Resources Trading Centre.
Yong Yi is one of more than 200 Chinese companies that hold third-party online payment licenses issued by China’s central bank. Bilibili is looking to invite e-retailers on its platform for internal tests of the payment system, as an insider told Caixin in an interview.
With the rapid growth of live streaming in China, tech companies have been ramping up efforts to expand their businesses into e-commerce, with online payment as a core foundation. As the payment feature would be the final stop that all content creators are aiming to direct their traffic to.
On top of that, by establishing their own online payment system, platforms are building a “closed-loop” in their own digital ecosystem, where they can keep their audience base internally while growing businesses.
Although the digital payment sector is currently predominated by Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay, other Internet companies such as ByteDance, Pinduoduo, and now Bilibili are catching up. While the lucrative market itself has drawn businesses’ interest, the ongoing government crackdowns on monopoly practices in the country’s Internet sector have also encouraged more participation.
Earlier in January, Bilibili’s parent company Shanghai Hode Information Technology Co., registered the domain names “bilibilipay.com” and “bilibilipay.cn”, showing the end goal of leveraging its user base in a domestic payments market.
With the boom of the live streaming industry in China, the Internet finance industry continues to grow in popularity. The ultimate goal of these online events is to incentivise consumption.
Where there is consumption, there will be payments. Now the battleground has been moved online.