Though started as a relatively latecomer compared with its arch rival Alipay, WeChat Pay has recorded exponential growth in China since its launch in 2013. Its remarkable domestic success mainly stems from the fact that it’s an extension of social networking and IM tool WeChat, which guarantees high-frequency use from users. Fully noting the power of social networking features, WeChat Pay looks to tap the overseas market with the same recipe amid an increasing robust demand for mobile payment from Chinese outbound tourists.

“As mobile payment is increasingly welcomed by mainland Chinese outbound tourists, WeChat Pay plans to constantly invest in its cross-border business, with the aim of duplicating the domestic WeChat lifestyle overseas,” Grace Yin, WeChat Pay Director for Overseas Operation today commented on the latest white paper issued by Nielsen, which found that over 90% Chinese tourists would use mobile payment overseas given the option.

Read More: Nielsen, Alipay white paper shows overseas merchants cannot ignore Chinese mobile payments

What most overseas merchants lack is not a payment tool, according to the WeChat Pay, who said existing payment methods (credit cards) are enough. “What local merchants really need is social interaction, a lasting communication channel to connect with the shoppers which allows future promotion and communication.”

Instead of serving just as a payment tool, WeChat Pay wants to create a lasting link between overseas merchants and their 800 million users. Chinese tourists can make payment in Chinese yuan and merchants receive the funds in local currency. Even after they leave the shop, shoppers can still get promotion and aftersales service through WeChat.

Through serving Chinese outbound tourists, WeChat Pay has established partnerships with a growing number of overseas merchants with the ability to handle transactions in 13 different currencies in 25 countries and regions. “Over 70% of the mobile internet traffic consumed by Chinese travelers in Korea was consumed on WeChat,” WeChat Pay quoted its Korean partner as saying.

Read More: 688 million people used WeChat hongbao on Chinese New Year’s Eve

While mobile payment is quickly taking over China, Chinese people are experiencing dramatic changes in lifestyle. 74% people stated that they can live for more than a month with only 100 RMB in cash, while 84% people reported that they could accept a totally cashless life, according to the 2017 Mobile Payment Usage In China Report.

The mega app is adding momentum to China’s swift transformation towards a smarter lifestyle. WeChat hongbao is changing China’s tradition of cash-giving on festive occasions, while the cooperation with ride-hailing app DiDi—which the parent company Tencent holds a stake in—revolutionized how people commute in China. Social interaction has always been the driving force behind payments on WeChat, and it is globalizing with WeChat Pay expand overseas.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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