Tencent’s social app WeChat has been known for occupying every touchpoint of a Chinese person’s normal life, and now it is extending its reach to China’s 135 million outbound tourists.

“It’s all about improving the customer use case,” Stephen Wang told TechNode at RISE Conference in Hong Kong; Stephen manages both the International Operations team and Data Analytics team for WeChat’s Core Product Group. “There is an issue of converting money into cash when they go overseas. A lot of consumers don’t feel that carrying a lot of cash is very safe. Another issue is that it’s very difficult to convert that currency back. Also, card-based transactions are actually not common inside mainland China. Mobile payment has become a dominant way for people to pay at the counter.” Research shows that the majority of Chinese traveling overseas prefer to pay with Alipay and WeChat Pay, while a little over 10% opt for cash and credit cards.

On July 3rd, Tencent held its WeChat Pay Overseas Open Conference in Tokyo and launched an open platform for foreign businesses. Tensions aside, Japan remains the top outbound destination for mainland Chinese travelers outside of the Greater China region, followed by the US, Thailand, South Korea and Australia. Businesses and financial institutions can now enroll online to join WeChat Pay. On the consumer end, Chinese outbound tourists can now pay by RMB directly via WeChat Pay and merchants receive the payment in ten different local currencies.

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Rita Liao

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.