WeBank, the online banking arm of Chinese e-commerce outfit Tencent, is speaking to private equity investors about a $1 billion fund raising effort to spearhead a high street banking push, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Webank has yet to confirm or deny the reports, which mark the latest escalation in the Chinese tech industry race to take on the nation's biggest banks. Just yesterday, Chinese search engine Baidu and China Citic announced plans to pump 2 billion yuan into a joint venture to launch a new Internet banking joint venture, dubbed Baixin Bank.
Tencents ambitions to grow in financial services have been further underscored by a partnership between its social messaging app WeChat and Western Union to provide users of the app with the ability to send money cross-border to 200 countries and territories, through the latter's WU Connect platform.
WeChat isn't the first app to launch social media payments. The video and photo messaging app Snapchat launched Snapcash in partnership with Square last year, while Facebook has included a P2P funds transfer capability as part of its Messenger platform.
Hikmet Ersek, CEO, Western Union comments: “Given the proliferation of social media around the world, we are expanding our activities in this exciting area. It only makes sense to include the WeChat platform as part of the company’s innovative digital money transfer capabilities."
The app is currently only available to WeChat users in the United States, he adds, but rollouts are planned for additional countries in the future.