You may be China Ready but are you WeChat Pay ready? Personally, being “China Ready” is more more about understanding the systems and processes that Chinese visitors use, than knowing how to speak a few words in Chinese and displaying a UnionPay sticker, which is really common courtesy to any international visitor.
WeChat, China’s global messaging app, with an active profile of 650 million users monthly, is taking its cashless in-store payments global. To put that in to perspective, this is about the same number of active monthly users of Instagram and Twitter combined.
The aim is for Chinese tourists heading overseas to be able to use WeChat Pay, the app’s built-in payments system (which is similar to Apple Pay and Android Pay) at participating stores around the world. Those of use who subscribe to WeChat saw WeChat’s parent company Tencent announcement last month on the WeChat app.
Today, WeChat Pay can be used in major chain stores and thousands of locations throughout China. Tencent is clearly targeting Alibaba and its mobile wallet app Alipay, which is also supported by many restaurants and retailers across China. In both Alipay and WeChat, in-store payments are processed when the cashier scans a QR code that either Alipay or WeChat Pay generates on the user’s phone.
WeChat will initially support payment in nine currencies – the US dollar, British pound, Hong Kong dollar, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Euro, New Zealand dollar, and Korean won – but it still only works with China-issued bank and credit cards, so any overseas spending is ultimately converted and paid for in renminbi.
The bottom line is that whoever comes out on top of this payment battle could very well set up a “winner takes all” scenario between Alibaba and Tencent. The stakes are indeed high.