Baidu Inc, China's largest Internet search company, launched its mobile payment solution, Baidu Wallet, on Tuesday, a move that is expected to help the company build a better ecosystem while going mobile.
Baidu Wallet allows the Beijing-based company to deliver so-called closed-loop transactions by embedding payment functions into its 14 mobile apps.
"Users' needs online are changing from searching for information to searching for services. It is high time for us to meet the needs and offer them one-stop services in the mobile Internet era," said Li Mingyuan, vice-president of Baidu.
Baidu will first embed the payment solution into its own apps, such as mapping and group-buying. It will also be integrated into the new version of mobile Baidu, a search app that is expected to be launched in late April.
Baidu's rivals, both Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, have already expanded into mobile payments and invested heavily to encourage customers.
Wang Weidong, an analyst at iResearch Group, a Beijing-based consulting firm, said that despite Alibaba's and Tencent's greater experience in the mobile payment sector, it doesn't mean that Baidu cannot carve out a share of the market.
"There is a lot of potential in mobile payment, especially in online-to-offline business. The contexts under which people can use mobile payment offline is not much at the present. If Baidu can link more offline services with online payment creatively, it can catch up with its rivals in no time," he said.
An in-house mobile payment app is essential for success in mobile e-commerce, and particularly online-to-offline services, J P Morgan said in a recent report by analysts Alex Yao and Yong Yang.
"We believe mobile payment enables Baidu to expand its scope from a pure traffic generator on mobile Internet into the facilitation of actual transactions," the report said.