WeChat Pay is growing at an exponential speed even though is a relative latecomer in the mobile payment market. With the backing of China’s largest social networking app WeChat, which now claims more than 889 million monthly active users globally, it comes in a close second to China’s first-mover.
Now, its operator Tencent is going to take this service to the US through a partnership with Silicon Valley-based mobile payment startup CITCON. Soon, WeChat users in the US will be able to enjoy the same cashless experiences as they do in China, with the payment tool even supporting RMB settlement.
Despite its popularity in China, WeChat is having a tough time expanding overseas despite huge investments in promotions. So, this service will first target Chinese tourists who are traveling in the US, an increasingly popular tourism destination for Chinese people who are becoming more affluent.
WeChat’s US launch comes after a round of European expansion. It has set up an office in Italy and an UK unit is also due soon. WeChat Pay is available in 15 countries and regions for payment in 12 currencies.
In addition to WeChat’s overseas expansion, Tencent is accelerating its global layout. In April this year, the internet giant led a US$13 million financing round in Aussie cross-border payment startup Airwallex.
Alipay, WeChat Pay’s arch rival in China, has been engaged in a similar drive for global expansion. As of April this year, Alipay is supported in over 100k offline stores in 26 countries across Europe, North America, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. The number of overseas payment during the three-day leave for May 1 tripled year-on-year, according to data from the company.
Ant Financial, the operator of Alipay, just made an US$ 200 million investment in Kakao Pay, the mobile finance subsidiary of Kakao Corp, parent to South Korea’s leading mobile messaging platform Kakao Talk.