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WeChat: China’s tech juggernaut is making waves in Australia

December 17th, 2017 | | industry

In the middle of last year The Byte introduced readers to this new phenomenon. Now its better known we have sourced and update to see where its headed and what about WeChat Pay!

WeChat is the most popular social media app in China. Since 2011, it has transformed from a messaging tool to an all-in-one super portal, with more than 900 million monthly active users. Its parent company, Tencent, is one of the most valuable technology companies in the world. WeChat’s success has been powered by the platform’s mobile payment service, WeChat Pay, which assists with every aspect of a user’s life — from shopping for clothes and hailing taxis, to organising hospital appointments and ordering food deliveries. Now, demand from Chinese tourists is increasing its uptake in Australia, and Australians are using WeChat too.

WeChat and mobile payments

A recent study shows 84 per cent of people in China are willing and able to replace cash with mobile payments. In 2016, 38 trillion yuan (US$7.5 trillion) was exchanged via mobile payment — a sum 50 times larger than the United States, the world’s second biggest market.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping vows to make China a cyber superpower, Chinese tech companies are extending their ambitions to build a cash-free economy beyond the border. To date, WeChat has successfully launched its payment service in 15 countries. Australia is a popular destination for Chinese tourists and students and it was one of the first offshore markets WeChat Pay targeted. In 2016, Chinese tourists spent $9.2 billion in Australia, and this figure is expected grow to $13 billion by 2020. Recently, nine Australian cross-border payment service providers have partnered with WeChat Pay to connect Australian merchants to Chinese consumers. WeChat Pay allows local merchants to receive payments to their Australian accounts within a shorter time frame and at a lower transaction cost than credit cards. More than 10,000 shops and restaurants in Australia are using the WeChat Pay system.

Most early overseas adopters of this service are duty free shops and Chinese restaurants, but in Australia it is also common to see the WeChat pay option available in pharmacies. Due to the high demand in China for Australian-made baby formula and health supplements, a visit to a pharmacy to stock up is often on a Chinese tourist’s “must do list” when visiting Australia.

Exporting mobile payment to the world

At this stage, only customers with Chinese bank accounts can use WeChat Pay to make payments, so the global push still largely relies on Chinese consumers. However, the app’s latest venture in Malaysia suggests the company is now planning to target overseas domestic users. In late November, WeChat obtained an e-payment license in Malaysia that will allow locals to use Malaysian banks to pay. This will make Malaysia WeChat’s first offshore market whereby all of the platform services can be made available to local users.

Source and more reading: ABC

Originally published in The Conversation