8 Jan 2016
Taiwan Plays Catch-Up as Mobile Payment Providers Target Territory
With mobile payment services newly legal in Taiwan, both local and global players are keen to make their mark.
Compared with many other markets, Taiwan has been something of a latecomer to the world of mobile payment systems. While other regions were early adopters of Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Alipay, a prohibitive regulatory regime barred Taiwanese consumers from such services. Recent legislative amendments, however, have changed all that, with a number of operators now only too keen to introduce their payment gateways to the territory.
At present, Line is the most popular messaging app in Taiwan, with the operator claiming 17 million users. Capitalising on this existing user base, the Tokyo-headquartered social network has now launched Line Pay across the territory. This service allows users to register their credit cards as the payment source, while also giving them access to a stored-value account, entitling them to transfer funds to any fellow users on their friends' list.
As well as enabling users to buy stickers and order items at the Line store, the service also has a trading agreement in place with 30 other Taiwanese e-commerce sites. This allows purchases to be made across a raft of sectors, including travel, lifestyle, cosmetics and music, while also offering the facility to participate in group buys.
Line hasn't had the market to itself, however. One local company looking to make its mark in the sector is the Taipei-based Gamania Group. As with Lime, its payment system – GASH Pay – originated in the world of online gaming, with players using the resource to purchase the group's games and add-ons. The company is now looking to capitalise on its multi-million subscriber base and extend its proprietary payment system into other e-commerce sectors.
In something of a boon to the operator, GASH Pay is Taiwan's first government-approved O2O mobile payment service. This allows it offer payment services to physical stores and service providers throughout the territory, including convenience stores, taxi operators and property management companies.
Gamania's home team advantage, however, hasn't deterred other operators from turning their attention to the territory. Alipay, too, is targetting Taiwan and is said to be primarily focusing on sites and services likely to be accessed by mainland tourists and business travellers.
Part of the Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group, Alipay is now said to be accepted by some 3,500 outlets in Taiwan, including department stores, supermarkets, business service providers and night markets. The service's appeal stems from the fact that it saves mainland visitors from the hassle of exchanging large amounts of currency and having to carry change around with them.
While it is still too early to predict which service – if any – will ultimately dominate the market place, it is clear there is a distinct demand for mobile pay systems in the territory. With the market still in its infancy, the likely winners will be those operators to offer the most innovative – and widely accepted – solutions to local payment requirements.
Sylvia Yeh, Taiwan Office