China's ByteDance buys UIPay to leverage e-payment capabilities at home

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – ByteDance, the owner of popular short-video app TikTok, said it has acquired a Chinese third-party payment service UIPay in a bid to leverage its domestic payment capability.

ByteDance bought UIPay’s operator, Wuhan Hezhong Yibao Technology Co, via an entity called Tianjin Tongrong E-commerce Co, data from the national business registration portal showed. The ownership change was made on Aug. 28.

Tianjin Tongrong is owned by Zhang Yiming, the founder and CEO of ByteDance.

“The acquisition is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on our multiple platforms in China,” ByteDance said in a statement sent to Reuters on Friday, without elaborating.

Established in 2012, UIPay obtained a third-party payment license from China’s central bank in 2014. There were reports of ByteDance acquiring UIPay in 2018, but ByteDance had downplayed the news and said the two were only business partners.

ByteDance has been hiring globally, and notably in Singapore, for a team that would be in charge of building a network and a platform providing cross-border payments solutions for the firm, according to LinkedIn ads.

Two sources said ByteDance had applied for a digital banking license in Singapore, which the firm has declined to comment on.

At home, ByteDance has also been leveraging its online finance business.

It obtained a licence for micro-lending in July, and is taking steps to move into the online stock brokerage and wealth management business in Hong Kong.

ByteDance has been ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump to divest TikTok in America or face a ban amid security concerns over the personal data it handles.


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