Can WeChat Pay replicate the success outside China?

Can WeChat Pay replicate the success outside China?

Kyle Wong, Ph.D. and CFA
COO, AI HK

WeChat Pay is extremely successful in China. It has a user base of 600 million in China. Together with Alipay, it allows the formation of a truly cashless society in China. As Ms. Grace Yin, Director of WeChat Pay at Tencent, pointed out in the talk “Breaking Down Border with WeChat Pay” in RISE 2017, Chinese use WeChat Pay in all kinds of transactions including hospital visits, charitable donations and even purchase from street hawkers. The mobile phones have indeed replaced the wallets in China.   Question is whether it can export the success to the rest of the world.

The export of WeChat Pay outside China has been led by Chinese tourists and business people. However, Ms. Yin points out that the adoption by non-mainland users does face obstacles.   Number one is that there may already be established players in other countries such as Octopus in Hong Kong. So it may not be easy for WeChat Pay to convince non-mainlanders to use it.   Number two is that the banking regulator may not be as friendly to WeChat Pay as in China. So WeChat Pay have to work hard with the local regulators and banks to get clearance. Number three is that oversea users are often concerned about privacy and government control. So WeChat Pay has to work hard to explain to non-mainlanders their data is safe with WeChat Pay.  

Kyle Wong, Ph.D. and CFA, is an educator, hedge fund manager, columnist and entrepreneur. At Kaplan Financial he teaches CFA and other financial programs for the public and financial institutions. He has been contributing regularly to iMoney.