WeBank, China’s first online-only private bank backed by Internet behemoth Tencent, quietly released its banking app over the weekend. Its features are remarkably similar to the existing WeChat payment services though it expects to expand soon.
In addition to being named after WeChat, Tencent’s mark on WeBank is clear in its exclusive support for WeChat and QQ login. After registering a connected bankcard, the users will get a 19-digit WeBank account number.
Only a text message verification is needed to connect the first bank card. But those who want to add a second one have to authenticate through face and voice recognition technologies. The highly anticipated long-distance account opening feature is still unavailable due to security concerns.
It is also a bit disappointing for some users since they cannot make payments by swiping a physical bank card nor transferring money to others with the system for now.
The current version works more like a financial platform which offers a Yuebao-like monetary fund, fixed-term fund and stock funds to cover users with different risk-taking capabilities.
Another major function is money transfer between cards under the same user’s name for saving salaries and paying house installments.
Tencent agreed that the current WeBank app is an elementary version with basic features and the company plans to enrich the functions in future updates.
As one of many entities that have been granted by the government to run private banks in China, WeBank is the first institution to begin operations under the pilot program since the beginning of this year. Tencent and its competitor Alibaba are the two Internet companies of the ten private investors who are allowed to participate in establishing these private banks.
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