Alibaba expands into mobile gaming in India with eye on digital payments, e-commerce

Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, is expanding into mobile gaming in India, where its mobile browser is the most popular by market share.

Hong Kong-listed AGTech Holdings and India-based Paytm, both controlled by Alibaba, will set up a joint venture to introduce Gamepind, a mobile gaming and e-commerce platform, in India, according to a statement by the two companies.

The Chinese e-commerce firm has been turning its focus to India as it looks to expand its operations abroad. Similar to the Chinese market, India has a large population of more than a billion people, and is now the world’s second-largest smartphone market. The company has ridden the wave of widespread smartphone use and popularity of mobile payments to drive e-commerce transactions, with about 549 million people, or about 40 per cent of China’s 1.4 billion population, using its Taobao and Tmall marketplace apps.

“India’s young consumers are experimenting and discovering more entertainment options on mobile. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and chief executive of Paytm, said in a statement. “Mobile game is therefore growing in the country and becoming big with mobile users.”

In India, Alibaba’s mobile browser UCWeb leads in market share with over 40 per cent, though that lead is narrowing as Google’s Chrome catches up. The company is also reportedly splashing out US$300 million for a stake in Indian online grocer BigBasket as it seeks to tap into the e-commerce market in India.

Alibaba, Malaysia team up on smart city initiative

With the latest Gamepind platform, Alibaba can tap into India’s rapidly growing mobile gaming market, which is estimated to be worth about US$1.17 billion in 2018, according to data portal Statista. On Gamepind, users are able to purchase products and services at a discounted price by engaging in various casual games and contests, according to the joint statement. The platform will be available both as an independent app and within Paytm’s app, allowing Gamepind to tap on Paytm’s 300 million user base.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, bought a controlling stake in AGTech for US$308 million in March 2016, and boosted its stake in Paytm to 62 per cent last year.

Xiaomi becomes India’s top smartphone maker

Alibaba is just one of several Chinese companies who are betting big on India.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has also invested heavily in the Indian market, its biggest outside the mainland. According to findings by research firms Canalys and Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi was the top smartphone manufacturer in India in the fourth quarter of 2017, beating previous leader Samsung in terms of smartphone shipments.

Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Vivo as well as Lenovo are also among the top five smartphone manufacturers in India. Chinese brands have a collective market share of about 43 per cent, according to Counterpoint data.

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