Tencent Has Ambitions to Expand WeChat Pay’s US Presence

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Chinese internet giant Tencent is intent on expanding the presence of its payments vehicle WeChat Pay in the US market despite escalating Sino-US trade tensions.

Tencent director of cross-border operations Yin Jie said to CNBC in a televised interview that the company is driving the adoption of its payment service by more businesses in the US.

“[The] US is also a market we are focused on now..after July you will see a lot of merchants will accept WeChat Pay in the US,” said

“Actually now…in the airport and in some duty free shops, they already accept WeChat Pay…because [the] US is a really big country and has a lot of merchants.

Yin Jie said that the opening phase of its plan will involve better catering to Chinese nationals who are travelling in the US.

“The first step we will choose some merchants which Chinese tourists like, just some outlets and duty free, some famous restaurants,” she said.

“The next step we will try and find some smaller merchants, just like a supermarket, some convenience stores, some transportation like taxis.

“We will choose big merchants that Chinese tourists like, then, when it has showcased, we will try to expand it to small merchants.”

Tencent’s WeChat Pay service enables users to purchase items or services with funds from their Chinese bank accounts by providing a barcode that retailers can scan.

WeChat itself has more than 1 billion users, while WeChat Pay is used by around 800 million consumers.

While escalating trade tensions between China and the US could see tariffs applied to an expanded range of exports, Yin Jie said that the service should be unaffected because it will give American businesses a more effective means of accessing Chinese consumers.

“WeChat Pay is just a payments product, so if the Chinese tourist wants to use it and the merchant wants to accept, I think we have a market,” she said.

According to a survey of around 2,600 respondents conducted by Nielsen earlier this year the US was the most popular destination for Chinese tourists outside of Asia in 2017.

Chinese tourists spent $4,462 per person during their stateside vacations, yet only 28% of their holiday payments were made using mobile devices, despite the immense popularity of mobile payments in China.

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