WeChat Pay to allow international cards for mobile payment

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Tencent is working with five international card network operators including Visa and Mastercard which will allow WeChat users to link international bank cards to the platform for mobile payments.

Why it matters: China’s largest mobile payment operators WeChat Pay and Alipay are eager to tap into the lucrative opportunities brought by international consumers traveling to the country.

Details: Tencent has been in talks with card-network operators Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover as well as Japan’s JCB to support the ability to bind overseas credit cards to WeChat Pay, according to an article (in Chinese) published on Tencent News on Tuesday.

  • WeChat Pay will begin with a pilot program to test purchases using overseas credit cards on railway ticketing platform 12306.cn and Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.
  • After the pilot program, Tencent will open up the international card support for more usage scenarios which adhere to strict guidelines from regulators and anti-money laundering policies.
  • US-based credit card service provider Visa posted a statement (in Chinese) on its WeChat official account in response to Tencent’s announcement, saying the company’s new international card scheme is “exhilarating” news for the entire payment industry.

Context: WeChat Pay already supports more than 300 banks in mainland China and several overseas credit cards from issuers such as JCB, Visa, and Mastercard. However, users without mainland China-issued credit cards are allowed only limited functions such as QR code payment.

  • On Tuesday, WeChat Pay’s rival Alipay introduced a foreign card workaround for mobile payments which allows tourists to link foreign bank cards to an online prepaid card service provided by the Bank of Shanghai.

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