After conquering the home market, China’s leading mobile payment platforms are pushing their services overseas. Tencent’s WeChat Pay is expanding in the United States, despite the escalating trade fight between the two countries.
Yin Jie, director of cross-border operation at WeChat Pay, told CNBC in an interview that there will be more merchants in the US accepting WeChat Pay later this year. “[The] US is also a market we are focused on now … After July, you will see a lot of merchants will accept WeChat Pay in the US,” Yin said.
Amid the trade tensions, many worry that Chinese tech firms, like Chinese telecommunications gear supplier ZTE, may get dragged into the political turmoil.
Asked whether the trade conflict would affect US businesses’ desire to bring WeChat Pay as a partner, Yin said: “WeChat Pay is just a payments product, so if the Chinese tourist wants to use it and the merchant wants to accept that, I think we have a market.”
“Actually now, in the airport and in some duty-free shops, they already accept WeChat Pay … because [the] US is a really big country and has a lot of merchants. We need to do it step by step,” she said.
Both Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay are striving to expand in the US.
Last year, Alipay partnered with electronic payment transactions specialist Verifone to allow taxis in the US to accept digital payments from Chinese travelers using the mobile payment service.
WeChat Pay linked up with Citcon, a US-based mobile payment platform, to bring the service to North America, although there haven’t been many major stores coming on board, according to CNBC.
Yin said WeChat Pay’s expansion strategy in the US would be similar to its approach in Asia. “The first step we will choose some merchants which Chinese tourists like, just like some outlets and duty-free [shops], some famous restaurants, and maybe the next step we will try and find some smaller merchants, just like supermarkets, some convenience stores, some transportation [services] like taxis. We will choose the big merchants that Chinese tourists like, then, when it has been showcased, we will try to expand it to small merchants,” Yin said.
WeChat Pay, which allows users to make purchases with the scan of a QR code, evolved from WeChat, China’s largest social network with over 1 billion users. Around 800 million of them are now using the WeChat Pay function.
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