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©Meituan Dianping


Meituan, the “Amazon for local services”

China · Oct 17, 2018 · By Irene Wang and Wang Xiao'e

 Now worth over US$50 billion, the company has always focused on one end-goal: help consumers eat better, live better

When Apple CEO Tim Cook ate wonton at a Shanghai restaurant last December, his Chinese dining companion taught Cook how to order and pay with a smartphone. By then, paying by smartphone was common practice in China, but the means did not yet exist in the US. Cook sang the praises of this “great innovation” on Weibo, the Chinese social media.

The man who showed Cook how indispensable the smartphone could be was none other than Wang Xing, CEO of Meituan-Dianping, one of China's most popular apps. Launched in 2010 as a copy of US group-buying business Groupon, Meituan has since eclipsed the market value of its American peer by more than US$50 billion. Meituan listed its shares in Hong Kong in September, and is now worth around US$53 billion.

No longer just a group-buying company, Meituan now provides users with access to a full spectrum of location-based services, including food delivery, restaurant reviews, movie ticketing, ride-hailing and hotel and travel bookings. The platform collectively offers services provided separately by Groupon, Yelp, Grubhub, Uber and Kayak, but users don’t have to switch between different apps for different services.

Smartphone in hand, users can search for the perfect restaurant, book a table and pay for the meal. Chinese consumers, who have become accustomed to using their smartphones to make all kinds of transactions, love Meituan’s multifunctionality.

Meituan is just one of a number of Chinese super apps. Alipay, Alibaba’s Koubei and, and Tencent’s WeChat are also competing for market share.

The rise of these super platforms has coincided with the development of mobile internet technology and the trend of so-called “consumption upgrade” in China. Chinese consumers are turning to the Internet to cater to all their needs, including renting bikes and booking pet groomers.

Edited by Wendy Lovinger

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