Third-party payment licenses become increasingly valuable

10/10/16

Permalink 01:58:28 pm, by dacare, 656 words, 278 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Third-party payment licenses become increasingly valuable

Some see activity as way to expand overall business

The market value of third-party payment licenses, which help companies expand their business beyond online payments, will continue to grow in the short term in China, analysts said.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank, stopped issuing new licenses in March 2015, and it has been enhancing its regulations of the third-party payment market. There are likely to be different impacts on different types of licenses, Mu Chu, an analyst from mpaypass.com.cn, a Shenzhen-based mobile payment intelligence provider, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"For example, a license for bill collection via bank cards will not be as valuable as before, as the profit margin in the bill collection business has been shrinking since the government lowered the bank card transaction fee," he said.

The PBOC cut commission charges and fees for bank cards on September 6, according to its website.

Under the new policy, card-issuing banks can't charge merchants more than 0.35 percent of the transaction amount for debit cards or more than 0.45 percent for credit cards, the PBC's document showed. Previously, the transaction fee varied among sectors.

The move will drive out some small online payment companies that make profits through counterfeiting point of sales (POS) machines with different categories to avoid transaction fees, according to an article published on domestic news portal sina.com.cn in September.

A license that has multiple functions will be scarce but the most in demand, Mu noted Sunday.

"For example, a license that covers online payments, mobile payments and bill collection via bank cards that can be used nationwide will become more and more valuable," he said.

At present, 269 third-party payment companies have licenses, and authorities have come up with more severe measures to crack down on illegal online transaction activities since 2014, according to a report by Beijing-based market consultancy Analysys International.

"Regulators will become more and more cautious in controlling existing licenses, but considering the added value that third-payment licenses can offer companies, their value will continue to increase," Ma Tao, research director of the finance study at Analysys International, told the Global Times on Sunday.

A license cost about 50 million ($7.5 million) to 80 million yuan at the beginning of 2015, but it now costs more than 400 million yuan, the China Business Journal reported on Saturday.

Many licenses have been bought and sold repeatedly as supply is limited but demand remains high, the journal said, quoting anonymous industry insiders.

"It's not a surprise that licenses are becoming so expensive, as they help companies access the online payment market initially then expand their business," Li Chao, a senior analyst at Beijing-based research firm iResearch, told the Global Times on Sunday.

More and more companies are willing to pay more for licenses as they see the importance of the online payment market, and mergers between companies are aimed at offering a complete line of payment services, Li Zijian, vice president of Beijing-based third-party payment provider fullrich.com, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Online payments enhance the connectivity between companies and customers and increase customer loyalty, which implies marketing opportunities," Li said.

Since the beginning of 2016, 14 merger and acquisition deals have been undertaken to get online payment licenses, according to the journal. For example, Midea Group Co spent 300 million yuan to buy Shenzhen-based third-party payment service provider Shenzhou Tongfu in August, a way to enter the online payment market, mpaypass.com.cn reported in August.

However, the growth of China's third-party payment market will slow in the near future. Total transactions in 2016 are expected to be 23 trillion yuan, representing a year-on-year growth of 52.8 percent, compared with 800 percent growth in 2013, the Analysys International report showed.

Companies should not look at obtaining online payment licenses and providing related services as an end in itself, as the market is close to saturation, Li noted. "To get more profit from the license, they should do more than offer online payment services," he said.

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