Alipay vs WeChat Pay

Comparing two of the APAC region’s biggest mobile payment providers

From local to global

When it comes to mobile payments use, the Asia-Pacific region is storming ahead of the rest of the world. Research from Kantar TNS shows that over half (53%) of APAC consumers now use their mobiles to pay for goods or services via apps, compared to just 33% in North America and 35% in Europe.

China is the number one mobile payments market globally, followed by Hong Kong and then South Korea. Half of young Chinese consumers use mobile payments on a weekly basis. And it’s not just young consumers: Older audiences are also heavily engaged, with 60% having tried mobile payments at some point, and 22% using them weekly. The numbers speak for themselves; mobile payments are a seriously big deal among APAC consumers.  

This widespread enthusiasm for mobile payments has been driven partly by the high penetration of smartphone ownership among APAC consumers, along with strategic moves by a number of popular regional chat apps. Many of these have included a mobile payment feature as an integral part of their apps.

China apps leading the way

Of course, any analysis of the APAC region is going to be influenced by consumer habits in China, with its billion-strong population. Indeed, two of the region’s most popular mobile payment apps originate from that country: WeChat Pay and Alipay. In 2018, both of these firms had already made significant headway among neighbouring countries. Now both have unveiled plans to take their services fully global, aiming to break into the European market, and perhaps even the ultra-competitive North American space, in the near future.

These two firms will go head-to-head on their international expansion drive, offering comparable services and catering to similar target audiences. But does either have an advantage over the other? One innovative way to assess this is by exploring consumer conversation trends. Driven by AI-Powered Consumer Insights, brand managers can tap into billions of conversations on social media. Here, consumers are talking about your competitors; about their branding, campaigns, products, and customer service experiences.

Behind the scenes

With that in mind, we take a look behind the scenes to discover what consumers are saying about WeChat Pay and Alipay. We examine social discussion data from consumers in the APAC region over the last four years, from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, QQ, and Tumblr, plus blogs and forums.

As the above share of voice chart shows, conversations related to Alipay have accounted for a much larger share of the discussion volume than conversations about WeChat Pay over the last four years. But from 2016 onwards, our data shows that WeChat Pay is starting to make a significant dent in AliPay’s dominance, indicating that Alipay should consider it a serious competitor in the APAC mobile payments space.

Know your audience

Another important step when analysing the competition is to find out how the demographics of the two audiences compare. Below we can see how Alipay and WeChat Pay stack up. The former seems to dominate at both ends of the age spectrum, particularly among the 35+ category. For both, the audience skews older, indicating where the main interest is located.

In terms of gender, males account for a significantly larger proportion of the discussion about both mobile payment brands. Lower levels of discussion in other age ranges or gender categories could indicate opportunities for the brands to access new target audiences, using this as a starting point for more in-depth audience analysis.

In today’s fast-moving world of social media marketing, brands can get an edge over the competition by knowing exactly where the discussions are happening, i.e. whereabouts online most of their interested audience is located. This is essential knowledge ahead of launching new online marketing campaigns, which may fall short if they launch on the wrong platform

Locating the discussion

We can see distinct differences between the two brands in terms of where they are discussed. Alipay has a clear 50% of its discussion coming from Twitter, while for WeChatPay the largest content source is forums. Both have a smaller slice from Instagram, and an even smaller one from blogs. WeChat Pay’s dominance on forums and blogs is an interesting consideration, as this often means the brand is attracting a more specialised audience.

Lastly, we compare audience sentiment in the discussion around both brands. We can see in the below chart that both brands are level with each other in positive sentiment, while WeChat Pay has slightly more negative sentiment . This is a good starting point for brand managers to delve deeper into the data, allowing them to capitalise on the positive discussion sentiment while taking measures to fix any issues causing the negative.

This post demonstrates the type of insights that can be drawn from social media discussions, helping brand managers stay ahead of the curve by understanding how their brand is faring in relation to key competitors.  

Want to learn more about competitive intelligence and trends in the APAC region? Download guide ‘AI-Powered Consumer Insights for the APAC Region’ to read more!

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