Making history: now (some of) you can use WeChat Pay on Taobao

On 20 February, some Taobao users witnessed the historic moment of being able to check out on the platform with WeChat Pay directly. The news quickly spread on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform and the topic “You can now check out WeChat Pay for Taobao orders” (#淘宝订单可以直接微信支付了#) quickly garnered 13.27 million views in less than two days.

Taobao’s customer service later clarified that the function is currently being trialled and is only available to certain users on specific items. Also, users won’t know if they can pay with WeChat until they are at the checkout page.

The news comes after Taobao allowed scanning QR codes as a form of payment in WeChat Pay last October. At the time, a newspaper journalist received confirmation from Taobao after an initial enquiry. Like the latest development, it was a trial for some users and on some items. The topic “Taobao gradually opens up for WeChat Pay” (#淘宝逐步开放微信支付#) shot to number 5 on Weibo’s Hot Search list with 110 billion views before the latest news boosted it up to 160 million. However, users needed to save the QR code before being able to scan it, so the function was not exactly convenient.

Alibaba and Tencent, the owners of Taobao and WeChat, have been loosening the barrier between the two platforms in recent years. Since the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2021 demanded the problem of blocked links between platforms be solved, we saw Alibaba’s, Youku etc starting to adopt WeChat Pay and WeChat allowing links directed to Taobao. In 2023, we saw WeChat allowing Taobao links in articles and Taobao ads during 618 and Double 11.

Both platforms can benefit from the interconnectivity. Taobao will gain more traffic from WeChat’s 1.34 billion daily active users, while WeChat will be able to partner with more brands after its work with Taobao, the largest e-commerce platform. Putting the inter in the internet has been a trend between platforms, as we see Douyin allowing Tencent’s Honor of Kings and other games to return to the streaming platform this January. Alibaba’s Hema Fresh (Freshippo) also opened a shop on Taobao rival last Double 11. As competition intensifies in each sector, partnerships will be more common as platforms form alliances. Hopefully, the obstacles between them will gradually become a thing of the past.


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