HONG KONG: Alibaba-owned Alipay and Tencent's catch-all chat app WeChat have topped a list of China's most relevant brands, as the country's mobile payments competition continues to heat up.

That is according to brand consultancy Prophet, which unveiled its first China brand relevance index in partnership with SSI, the research firm, Marketing Interactive reported.

The study surveyed nearly 10,000 consumers globally, finding that Chinese consumers consider Alipay to be the most relevant" brand in China, followed by WeChat and then financial brand Visa.

Alipay, China's biggest online and mobile payments company, has more than 400m users and operates in partnership with 65 financial partners. It also serves an estimated 460,000 Chinese businesses.

The findings reflect the prevalence of mobile payments in everyday Chinese life, where the functionality of on-the-go payment platforms is significantly ahead of Western markets.

WeChat's digital-first approach to everyday conveniences has seen it achieve near universal penetration among digitally savvy Chinese consumers.

With WeChat, consumers are able not only to shop online, but split bills with friends, pay for services and utilities, or even scan barcodes in stores to see if a product is cheaper online – all from the same app.

Although Visa is a challenger brand in China – the country's own UnionPay brand holds a near-monopoly on market share – and the brand is seen by Chinese consumers as being more flexible and is popular among travellers for its international availability.

Uber, which faced a struggle to make an impact in China before eventually merging with home-grown competitor Didi, along with hotel brand Marriott, round out Prophet's top five most relevant brands in China.

Commenting on the findings, Jay Milliken, Senior Partner at Prophet, said: "In this era of infinite expectation and persistent change, absolutely nothing is more critical for a brand than to be, and to remain, relevant.

"Of the 50 brands in the index, 18 were Chinese, demonstrating that Chinese consumers find relevance in both global and homegrown brands."

Data sourced from Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff