Mobile payment everywhere in China, and difficult for foreigners . . .
Within just a few years, mobile payment has become the preferred mode of making purchases in China. Residents of China’s largest cities now predominantly use mobile payment apps for most types of purchases – from street food to luxury goods in high-end stores. Mobile payment is now so popular in China that many vendors have stopped taking cash and two companies – Alipay and Wechat – account for 93% of the mobile payment market. For foreigners in China this has become a problem as mobile payment options have only been available to Chinese bank account holders.
But getting easier . . .
This may soon change: both Alipay and Wechat are opening their services to international card holders travelling to China. In Alipay’s case, it launched a separate international version of its app to provide short-term visitors 90 days of access to its payment services without having to link a local mobile number or bank card. WeChat Pay is now entering partnerships to allow payments with international credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. These developments will make it easier for foreigners to make purchases in China while also supporting the internationalization of Chinese mobile payment platforms.
Towards the internationalization of mobile payment . . .
Both Alipay and Wechat Pay’s influence overseas is growing with the two platforms becoming particularly popular among businesses targeting Chinese tourists and members of local Chinese communities who prefer paying through mobile channels and in yuan. It remains to be seen how the new, looser mobile payment regulations in China will affect the adoption of mobile payments by foreigners, and how this will impact the popularity of China’s mobile payment apps in countries such as Canada. But with the skyrocketing growth of international Chinese tourists, we can expect to see more and more businesses in Canada accepting Alipay and Wechat Pay in the coming years.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: The mobile payment revolution in China
- South China Morning Post: Tencent joins hands with major international credit cards to allow more foreigners to use WeChat Pay
- Wall Street Journal: Welcome to China. You probably can’t buy anything, though