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Chinese state dismisses third-party payment cancellation rumors

The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has shattered rumors about the cancellation of third-party payment channels to pay electricity bills after its new payment app “Dian e Bao” was launched.

The new payment app by SGCC. Screenshot from App Store.

A post on Wednesday evening on the official Weibo account for news from the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which supervises SGCC, said that the new app is an additional channel for citizens to pay electricity bills, and at the same time, users can still choose to pay through any third-party payment apps like WeChat Pay and Alipay.

The new app was officially launched last month by the e-commerce company owned by SGCC. It is a platform that integrates payment functions, online shopping and financial services. For instance, financial services are managed and provided by a wholly-owned subsidiary of SGCC; the app has a Ctrip-like platform that provides flight ticket, hotel and train ticket booking services; and it also has an e-commerce site accessible through the mobile app.

In the future the app might integrate more services related to electric vehicles, since its e-commerce site is already selling e-cars.

It is not just a payment tool, it’s a portal for a comprehensive set of e-commerce and financial services created by this central government-owned enterprise. As a speaker of SGCC said on the launch day of the app, “SGCC will quicken the pace in building companies focusing on e-commerce and Internet finance sectors.”

Although it is a comprehensive platform with a variety of functions, a big problem it may face is the question of who will bother downloading it if it is basically similar to the already-well-established Alipay. Maybe SGCC can try a new subsidy method, like giving away online top-up cards to pay electricity bills for new users.

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