Alibaba bows to antitrust campaign,opens up deals with rivals

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People with knowledge of matter say that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is planning to offer its fast-growing bargains service on rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging platform in a major concession to regulators seeking to crackdown on tech monopolies.

Alibaba and Tencent have long excluded each other’s services from their platforms.

Now, Alibaba is planning to set up a Taobao Deals lite app on Tencent’s WeChat and has already invited some merchants to participate, according to sources.

Selling through the WeChat super-app means the merchants will now be able to accept payments made through WeChat Pay, a service that had been barred on Alibaba’s marketplaces.

Tencent will have to approve the listing of any in-app platforms — commonly known as mini programs — and it’s not clear if the company will do so with Taobao Deals lite app.

More than one billion people use WeChat, which has evolved beyond chatting to offer ride-hailing, online shopping and payments on its platform.

The move is one of the clearest indications that Beijing’s crackdown on monopolies is taking effect. China’s antitrust watchdog has made regulating internet companies one of its top priorities, cracking down on monopolistic behaviors from alliances that squeeze out smaller rivals to forced exclusive arrangements and predatory pricing.

President Xi Jinping on Monday called for greater oversight of the “platform” economy, signaling that Beijing is preparing to amplify its campaign against its tech giants.

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