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The battle between Tencent and Ant Financial over digital wallets may never be won

Reuters/Bobby Yip
Tencent towers over most other Chinese companies.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Tencent and Alibaba—China’s tech superpowers, with a combined market value of almost $1 trillion—have clashed repeatedly since they were created in the earliest days of the country’s internet economy. Some 20 years later, one of the most important pieces of turf is still up for grabs: Control of the Chinese digital wallet.

As the smoke clears, Alibaba, founded by Jack Ma, has emerged as the dominant power in e-commerce, while Pony Ma’s (no relation) Tencent has won gaming and social media. They still compete in a wide range of other digital sectors, and the skirmishes have at times been costly. Butting heads for control of the ride-hailing sector cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, as Alibaba poured money into Kuaidi Dache, and Tencent did the same with Didi Dache. They eventually called a truce: a merger (link in Chinese) that created Didi Chuxing.

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