Tencent has made a “breakthrough” in obtaining an electronics payment license in Malaysia that would allow local users link their bank accounts to WeChat Pay and make payments in ringgit, senior vice president S.Y. Lau told Reuters. Tencent applied for the license in July and expects to launch the full ecosystem in Malaysia early next year, making it the first country outside China to operate the full WeChat system.

This comes as a surge in Tencent’s shares see the company surpass Facebook to become the world’s fifth most valuable firm behind Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon.

“Malaysia is actually quite large in the sense that we have 20 million WeChat users, huge potential, and the market is quite warm towards internet products from China,” Lau said in the interview with Reuters.

At the time of announcing the application for the license, Grace Yin, director of WeChat Pay explained to a Reuters reporter the choice of Malaysia as the first overseas market stemming fro the fact that “Malaysia has a large Chinese community”.

“What we’re aiming to create is ‘super IPs’ that leverage our different businesses from upstream to downstream,” Lau said, explaining how the end goal is to export Chinese culture globally, and also stated that Tencent is “not in a hurry” to speed up its overseas expansion.

Alibaba is also pushing out a global payments system with its financial affiliate Ant Financial already working with Malaysia’s Maybank to extend the use of its services in the country. Tencent’s social approach could be more problematic as so far WeChat adoption outside China has been limited and capturing the transactions of Chinese tourists has been the main reason for mainland companies to extend payment systems globally.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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