Tencent’s mobile payment platform WeChat Pay and online insurance platform WeSure are offering financial support to small merchants hospitalized for novel coronavirus treatment.

Why it matters: The coronavirus epidemic has taken more than 560 lives in China and infected thousands. Small- and medium-sized sellers are among those hit the hardest in the country as the transport of goods has become increasingly difficult with traffic restrictions. Meanwhile consumers, wary of human contact, remain at home.

Details: As reported on our sister site, TechNode Chinese, merchants can apply for financial aid via WeChat’s payment platform. Applicants eligible for the aid will receive RMB 1,000 ($143.5) per day for up to 30 days, and are not required to repay the funds.

  • Merchants qualify for the coronavirus financial aid as long as they have earned at least a single point from WeChat Pay’s merchant incentive “Gifts Upon Payment” program.
  • Merchants covered by the insurance can receive a payout of RMB 1,000 per day for up to 30 days if diagnosed with the disease and admitted to primary or secondary public hospitals or certain treatment centers for novel coronavirus patients.
  • The financial aid plan is valid until Feb. 29.
(Image credit: TechNode Chinese)

Context: WeChat said in July that its payment network connected more than 50 million merchants and businesses in China and processed a billion transactions daily. A large percentage of small merchants on WeChat Pay are restaurants, fruit and vegetable sellers, hardware stores, and grocery stores.

  • Gifts Upon Payment is a merchant engagement program that WeChat rolled out in January 2019. Small- and medium-sized merchants can earn points for every QR code transaction they receive, RMB 1 for 1 point. Merchants can exchange points earned for benefits.
  • Chinese tech companies have stepped up to support small and medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Ant Financial-backed online commercial lender Mybank has reduced interest rates for business loans by 10% for 1.8 million small business owners in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak. Tencent, Bytedance, and Alibaba have made some online business conferencing and collaboration features free of charge for smaller enterprises.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com.

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