WeChat has introduced a new payment feature that allows users to send and receive money using a mobile phone number.
Why it matters: Tencent’s WeChat Pay is one of the most popular payment methods in China, with access to the messaging app’s billion-plus users. The payment giant frequently locks horns with rival Alipay, operated by Ant Financial.
- Tencent has been focusing on its fintech push since late last year. According to the company’s first-quarter financial results, fintech and enterprise-facing services was its second-largest division, behind only online games.
Details: WeChat users can unlock the new feature from the messaging app.
- The sender can transfer money to the receiver by entering a phone number. The funds will be automatically deposited into the receiver’s WeChat wallet.
- Both the sender and the receiver’s WeChat account are required to be linked to valid mobile numbers.
- The sender can transfer money to any WeChat user, even those that are not a friend, as long as the mobile payment feature is enabled.
- The feature is currently available only on iOS.
- Some Chinese netizens questioned the security aspect of the payment method. “What if I entered the wrong phone number?” a Weibo user commented on a Sina Tech post about the new feature. “It should at least add another verification step to make sure the name of the receiver is correct,” another user said.
Context: The Alibaba-affiliated Alipay rolled out a similar payment feature back in 2012, which allows money transfers using only a mobile number or an email addresses.
- Several other major banks in China have also introduced a mobile phone number-based funds transfer feature, including Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.