What happened: According to new data released by Tencent, tourists are increasingly taking their WeChat Pay habits with them to Hong Kong and Macau. Mainland users’ daily average number of transactions in each territory this past January grew 200% and 900%, respectively, compared to the same period last year. Payment hotspots for mainland tourists included attractions like Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour and Disneyland, as well as Macau’s airport. Twenty-something users born between 1990 and 1999 made up 65% of cross-border transactions; the group was also skewed towards females, who carried out 70% of all payments. In addition, WeChat Pay’s mobile payment services for Hong Kong users, which launched last October, are now supported by 1 million mainland vendors.
Why it’s important: In its report, WeChat specifically singled out plans for integrating the Greater Bay Area, an official moniker for the region including Hong Kong, Macau, and nine southern mainland cities. While the area is divided by different currencies, regulations, and borders, WeChat Pay may be helping to bridge some gaps—especially for mainland tourists. The payment system is supported on the new Hong Kong-mainland high-speed railway, as well as the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Of course, WeChat alone won’t be able to whittle down bureaucratic barriers between territories. But given its growing prevalence and current partnerships with China’s government, it’ll likely play a significant role in future development.
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