Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) said Tuesday that the company has formally launched its own mobile payment service ‘Baidu Wallet.’ China’s most popular search engine’s move comes after its key rivals launched similar products. Tencent Holdings Ltd (HKG:0700) launched WeChat Payment in August 2013. Alibaba had unveiled its Alipay Wallet in January 2013.
Baidu Wallet to offer payment, money transfer and wealth management services
Zhang Zhenghua, general manager of Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU)’s payment business Baifubao, told Xinhua that Baidu Wallet will offer payment, money transfer and wealth management services. Over the past few years, the big three of Chinese Internet business, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent have been aggressively adding new services and buying other companies to ramp up the development of their mobile Internet businesses.
Last year, Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) spent $1.9 billion to buy smartphone app store 91 Wireless from NetDragon Websoft. In May 2013, the company also spent $370 million to buy online video platform PPS. It has also purchased group buying site Nuomi, and Perfect World’s online literature business Beijing Huanxiang Zongheng. But this year, the company has been quiet on acquisitions. The Beijing-based Internet giant will this year focus on improving its mobile and cloud business, location-based search services and international expansion.
Facebook also planning to launch e-money services
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has also been planning to enter the online payments business. The social networking giant is seeking approval from Ireland’s central bank to offer e-money services. If it gains approval, Facebook will allow users to store money on the website, and use it to pay others or exchange for services. The e-money will be valid all over Europe via a process called “passporting.”
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s entry in the electronic money business would strengthen its business in emerging markets. However, there is a big question whether or not users will trust the social networking giant with their money. Facebook has been widely criticized in the past for violating user privacy laws.
Baidu Inc (ADR) shares plunged 3.07% to $149.03 at 12:34 PM EDT on Tuesday.