China’s Internet giant Tencent, which also owns messaging service WeChat, launched a smartphone app for its WeBank on Aug. 15. The app provides online money transfer and several financial services, and allows facial recognition and the use of connected bank accounts.
The app still has many limitations in terms of financial business and the functions of the app are closer to those of online financial services, rather than online banking.
As WeBank’s first smartphone app, it focuses on money transfer between accounts belonging to the same users and selling financial products. Users may apply for an account in the app or log in via their Tencent QQ or WeChat username, and connect a bank card with the account. Currently, the app only supports money transfer between accounts under the same name. The facial recognition can be used as verification when users connect their second bank card with the account.
Due to regulations and limitations, WeBank is not allowed to provide deposit and withdrawal services. The new app focuses on selling financial products; the first batch includes currency fund and commercial insurance. Users can also use their WeBank app to set up automatic loan payments.
WeBank’s app is not yet able to replace traditional banks in terms of its functions. The app is closer to a mobile payment platform, but is not as comprehensive and convenient as Alipay’s mobile wallet.