Tencent Invests in China Cab Booking App to Tap Mobile Users

Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s largest Internet company, invested in Chinese cab reservation app Didi Taxi as part of plans to promote its payment service to users accessing the Web through mobile devices.

Tencent was one of the investors for Didi Taxi’s $100 million fundraising effort, Jerry Huang, a director of investor relations at Tencent in Shenzhen, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Didi Taxi, created by Beijing Xiaoju Keji Didi Dache Co., worked with 350,000 taxi drivers in 32 cities and had 22 million users that generated 350,000 daily bookings by December, the company said in an e-mail yesterday. Users of Tencent’s instant-messaging app Wechat -- known as Weixin in Chinese -- in mainland China can pay for Didi Taxi bookings using the Weixin Payment service, Huang said.

“Tencent might see a lot of potential in the taxi booking market,” Yang Yang, a Beijing-based analyst at Internet consulting group IResearch, said by phone. “Tencent’s payment service could become the main tool for taxi payments in the future and this effectively promotes it.”

Tencent is seeking a bigger share of the mobile-services market by adding more games to WeChat. The company bought a stake in Activision Blizzard Inc. in July and invested in Korean messaging-app company Kakao Corp. in April 2012, according to its annual report.

Yesterday, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., owner of China’s biggest e-commerce business, said it will start a platform hosting mobile games, putting it in competition with Tencent.

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