Ride-hailing giant Didi wants to create the next Alipay

Business & Technology

Despite government attention and the threat of regulation, financial technology remains a white-hot destination for investment among China's tech firms and venture capitalists.

Illustration by Derek Zheng

Although China’s largest digital payment platform, Ant Financial, had to halt its IPO and Beijing has stepped up scrutiny on financial technology companies, more tech companies are introducing their own online finance services as they try to take a piece of the pie.

China’s leading ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing, launched a credit payment service named Yuefu (meaning “monthly pay”), which allows its users to ride now and pay later, according to Yicai (in Chinese).

  • Didi Yuefu offers up to 38 days of interest-free loans of less than 1,000 yuan ($153) for ride-hailing services in Didi’s mobile app.
  • The service is currently only available for selected users. It is expected to serve all of Didi’s over 550 million users in the near future.
  • Users are encouraged to sign up to receive a 10 yuan ($1.50) coupon, but risk having their Didi account suspended if they fail to pay back the loans 15 days after the deadline.

Didi is quickly expanding its in-app financial services and aiming for independence from the dominating third-party digital payment platforms — Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay.

  • The ride-hailing giant this July officially introduced Didi Pay, a digital payment platform that can be used on services in Didi’s ecosystem, including ride and taxi hailing, bike sharing, and public transportation.
  • Didi launched Didi Finance last January and began to provide car insurance and financing, health insurance, and investment services.
  • Facing the government’s growing scrutiny on fintech, Didi built a relationship with Beijing by becoming the first internet company to support China’s government-backed, central-bank-issued digital currency this July.
  • Experts expect financial services will become an important revenue source for Didi, which now takes over 90% of China’s ride-hailing market but has yet to turn a profit, according to China Times (in Chinese).

Other tech giants are also crowding into the credit payment market dominated by Ant Financial’s Huabei and JD.com’s Baitiao.

  • Food delivery giant Meituan launched its own Yuefu service in July. Under similar terms to Didi Yuefu, the service can be used for on-demand delivery, hotel and flight booking, and ride-sharing services in Meituan’s ecosystem.
  • TikTok’s Chinese version, Douyin, also began to provide a credit payment service, Fàngxīnhúa 放心花, and a loan service, Fàngxīnjìe 放心借, this November. Both services are currently only available for selected users.