Ant Financial Launches New Mini-Program Unit to Rival WeChat

The world’s largest fintech company has announced the launch of a new unit for the development of its own mini-programs.

Ant Financial announced on Wednesday that the new Alipay mini-program unit will invest 1 billion yuan in the development of mini-programs over the next three years.

Alipay, Ant Financial’s third-party mobile and online payments platform, has also revealed that its mini-program platform will be gradually opened to developers over the next six months.

Observers say Ant Financial hopes the move will enable it to catch up to online rival Tencent when it comes to mini-programs, which are sub-applications that are small enough to run on app interfaces without the need for separate downloads.

Tencent currently offers more than one million mini-programs via its WeChat platform, bringing a vast range of functions to its over a billion users.

The new Alipay mini-program unit will apply a “718+X” business model, which refers to the “7 main entries, 1 closed loop, 8 major capabilities plus X sites.”

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