With 1.2 billion active users, WeChat is China’s biggest mobile app and plays an important role in everyday life in China — even when it comes to payment.
Its payment service, WeChat Pay, is used by around 900 million users a month and is one of the most popular ways to pay in China’s predominantly cashless society.
Want to offer your Chinese customers a familiar, trusted, and easy payment method?
WeChat Pay is the answer.
But how can foreign businesses set up WeChat Pay outside China?
And what are the main benefits of doing so?
Let’s break it down.
But first, what is WeChat Pay?
WeChat Pay is an integrated mobile payment method available to WeChat users. Every WeChat user in (or from) Mainland China can use WeChat Pay to:
- Transfer money to friends
- Pay businesses (both in-person and online)
- Top-up their mobile phone balance
- Pay for utility bills
- Book accommodation
- And so much more…
It really is the primary way to pay for products and services in China — and the statistics certainly back that up.
What businesses should offer WeChat Pay?
If you want to attract Chinese customers, offering WeChat Pay is a no-brainer — no matter what industry you’re in. It’ll give them an easy and trusted way to pay, which could give your Chinese sales the boost you’re looking for.
Mobile-first businesses, like e-commerce apps, will especially benefit from offering WeChat Pay, since it’s accessed via mobile. And if your business already has a following on WeChat, WeChat Pay will allow you to monetize that following very effectively.
WeChat Pay is even a good choice if your customer base isn’t Chinese but frequently travels to China, as it allows foreign visitors to pay via their domestic credit cards. Chinese tourists can also use WeChat Pay when they’re outside of China, too.
Ultimately, if a large chunk of your customer base is Chinese or located in China, no matter what bank account they have or where they live, you’ll be able to create a good customer experience for them by offering WeChat Pay.
Follow the links below for case studies of WeChat Pay being used in a wide range of industries:
From which countries can you implement WeChat Pay?
WeChat Pay can manage 13 different currencies, in 25 countries and regions.
In other words, it’s a truly global payment provider and can be offered by businesses across the world.
Countries, where WeChat Pay can be implemented, include:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
- And more
Get in touch with us if you’d like to know if your business could offer WeChat Pay as a payment method.
How to set up WeChat Pay outside China for international businesses — a step-by-step guide
There are two different ways foreign businesses can register for WeChat Pay: one for those who have a Chinese bank account, and one for those who don’t.
Let’s go ahead and break both routes down.
- How to set up WeChat Pay as a foreign business with a Chinese bank account (and company)
If you’re registered as a Chinese company and have a Chinese bank account, you can set up WeChat Pay by following the steps below.
First, you’ll need a WeChat Official Account
In order to set up WeChat Pay, you’ll need access to your WeChat Official Account. These are verified brand accounts on WeChat that act like Facebook pages.
If you’ve already got a WeChat Official Account, the WeChat Pay setup process is relatively straightforward — and if you don’t, you’ll need to open one.
Our guide on opening a WeChat Official Account as a foreign business covers everything you need to know about the registration process.
Then, log into your WeChat Official Account and activate WeChat Pay
Once you have access to an Official Account, you’ll then be able to apply for WeChat Pay by clicking on the WeChat Pay icon on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
This will then start the WeChat Pay registration process, which is very similar to the process of setting up an Official Account.
You’ll need to provide the following information:
- Company registration number
- Copy of your business license (with company stamp)
- Contact details
- Legal details
- Company bank account
- Company financial records (in terms of turnover and expected transaction volume)
WeChat will then verify and approve your WeChat Pay application, before you can start accepting WeChat payments. This can take around a week or so.
- How to set up WeChat Pay as a foreign business without a Chinese bank account (or company)
If your business doesn’t have a Chinese bank account, there are two ways you can start offering WeChat Pay as a payment option.
You can partner with a domestic WeChat Pay institution
This is the route that most international businesses will need to take.
To get started, you’ll need to contact one of WeChat Pay’s official partners by following this link and entering your country into the search bar.
Get in touch with a local partner, and they’ll walk you through the application process. It’s straightforward and can be completed within a week.
You’ll need to send them the same documentation outlined above, as well as confirmation that your business meets WeChat Pay’s requirements.
Once you’ve done that, the institution will configure your WeChat Pay account and start accepting payments on your behalf. They’ll then send those payments to you, as outlined in the diagram below:
Or you can integrate directly with WeChat Pay
If you’re based in Hong Kong or the UK, you won’t need to rely on a third-party institution — you can integrate directly with WeChat Pay.
Again, this is a relatively straightforward process and involves the following steps:
- First, go to the Merchant Platform and select your country
- Then, provide the necessary information and documentation
You’ll need to send WeChat Pay the same documents we’ve covered above, including your business license, ID, and legal information.
- You’ll then be sent a contract
Sign it and return it to WeChat Pay, as requested.
- Configure your account
WeChat Pay will help you set up your account and get everything ready to go. You’ll then be able to start accepting WeChat Payments straight from WeChat.
WeChat Pay vs. AliPay — what’s the difference between the two?
Before we wrap things up, it’s worth mentioning that WeChat Pay isn’t the only mobile payment option in China.
AliPay, its closest competitor, is used by almost 900 million domestic users and offers very similar features.
The most significant difference between the two is that AliPay is a standalone payment platform, whereas WeChat Pay is an extension of a social media app.
Here’s a quick break down of the differences between the two:
|WeChat Pay (international)||AliPay(international)|
|Business entity||Overseas business license||Overseas business license|
|Bank requirement||Home country||Home country|
|Account set-up fee||Free||$1000|
|Transaction fee||3%||3% (or less)|
|Access||Via WeChat||Via AliPay app|
|Users||Approx 900 million||Approx 900 million|
|Best for||WeChat users||non-WeChat users|
Check out our guide on setting up AliPay as a foreign business to find out more.
Need helping setting up your accounts in China?
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Our team of Chinese marketing experts can set up your ad accounts for you and get you up-and-running, without all the hassle.
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