Tencent’s social media payments vehicle has announced that it will refrain from providing local payments wallets to foreign customers in China for at least the next three years, focusing instead on overseas expansion.
WeChat Pay, the payment service which is integrated into the wildly popular Chinese social media app WeChat, said that it would instead focus on providing services to tourists from China travelling in overseas jurisdictions.
The service has proven immensely popular within the mainland Chinese market, receiving a huge boost from WeChat’s dominant position as a social media app with around one billion global users.
In addition to mainland China WeChat Pay is currently available in more than 40 countries and regions around the world, and can be used with 13 different currencies.
800 million users have connected either their bank accounts or credit cards to the payments platform.
“In mainland China we have millions of users so we can make WeChat Pay into a successful payments tool,” said Grace Yin, director of WeChat Pay’s international operations, at the RISE technology conference in Hong Kong last week according to a report from The South China Morning Post.
“We don’t have many WeChat users in overseas countries so we should accept that it will be hard to develop payment tools for them.”
Yin said that WeChat Pay will focus on the development of building payments infrastructure in overseas markets, in order to facilitate transactions by Chinese tourists travelling abroad.
The first stage of its overseas expansion encompasses Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Thailand, to be followed by Europe, the US and Australasia.
China is already the world’s largest source of outbound tourism according to a report released by the China Tourism Academy and internet travel agency Ctrip in March.
In 2017 Chinese tourists made 130 million outbound trips and spent USD$115 billion abroad, with Thailand, Japan and Singapore ranking as the top three travel destinations.
WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay currently enjoy a market share of more than 90% in China’s mobile payments sector.