Zhang Zhenghua, general manager of Baidu’s payment branch Baifubao, said recently that mobile payments face a much more complicated market than traditional online payments. Search providers are in increasing correlation with online payment services, he said at a financial forum in the 2014 Global Mobile Internet Conference. According to Zhang, Baidu sees vast business opportunities in the sector as there is a potential demand for online payments behind 65 percent of mobile search.
Under the theme “Mobilizing the Next 5 Billion,” discussions on financial issues in the conference naturally caught the most attention. Business leaders overseeing financial products in the three Chinese Internet giants — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — also gave speeches at the event. Zhang believes that user numbers and payment platforms are at the core of the industry competition. With the rapidly developing mobile Internet, users’ demands for payment services have changed dramatically from the traditional retail business model. Fast and safe payment services may be all that’s required by traditional retailers and online stores, but being fast and safe alone will now be difficult for developers to break new ground in the mobile market.
Software and devices are the basics of online payment services, but the platforms will be the key to attracting users. Mobile payment service providers have to construct complete payment systems. Providers that score over 100 million users usually stand a better chance of building a mature “ecosystem” for their payment services. Alibaba and Tecent rely respectively on their e-commerce users and the vast number of QQ users. Baidu, on the other hand, lags slightly behind in terms of active users.
Although Baidu currently does not have products with more than 1 billion users, it does have 14 products that boast more than 100 million users each, including maps, search engines and group buying sites. Among all, Baidu has its advantage in mobile searches; 65 percent of the mobile searches provided by Baidu have a potential demand for payment services. Therefore, Baidu plays an important role while it provides services for its users.