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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?
When a company plans to enter the Chinese market, having a presence on WeChat is essential. Every month, more than a billion users interact with this social network, offering incredible marketing opportunities for companies in every sector.
In addition to its incredible popularity, for many years, WeChat had also become well known for the limitations imposed on foreign companies trying to use it for their operations in China.
However, since May of 2018, things have changed significantly. Today, opening a WeChat Official Account, also known as WeChat Business Account, is much easier for a foreign company. The registration process is now similar to that used by a Chinese company.
Before examining the details of the new WeChat rules, it is important to understand what a WeChat Official Account is, why it is important for a company to have one and how to register it.
WeChat Pay is the answer.
But how can foreign businesses set up WeChat Pay outside China?
And what are the main benefits of accepting WeChat Payment?
Let’s break it down.
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:
It really is the primary way to pay for products and services in China — and the statistics certainly back that up. It works as a WeChat wallet for the users.
In 2019, 72 million corporations used WeChat Pay and, in the same year, it generated over 1 billion commercial transactions a day.
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 App, 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 Payment.
Follow the links below for case studies of WeChat Payment being used in a wide range of industries:
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 payments can be implemented, include:
Get in touch with us if you’d like to know if your business could offer WeChat Pay as a payment method to Chinese users.
WeChat Official Accounts are the tools the WeChat social network provides for companies to interact with their customers. WeChat Official Accounts can be compared to Facebook pages.
Just as on Facebook, when a business opens their Official Account with WeChat, it has the possibility of acquiring followers. By means of WeChat, a company can get in touch with its followers through messages, or by directing them to a website or online store.
It is of no surprise that because of its vast user base, WeChat has become one of the most used and successful marketing tools in China.
There are several types of WeChat Official Accounts. The ones most used by companies are the Subscription Account and the Service Account. It is up to the foreign company to decide which of these fits best with its marketing strategy. In fact, one of the biggest differences between these two accounts is the frequency with which they allow you to interact with your audience.
The WeChat Subscription Account allows you to send one message per day to your users. This option is great for creating and maintaining a consistent relationship with your followers.
This account is particularly appreciated by E-commerce or other companies that need to share with their audience promotions, new articles or services, to advertise events, or something else. One message a day allows you to have a constant presence on WeChat.
However, you should consider that this account is limited in other respects. For example, the Subscription Account does not support WeChat Payments and vouchers, geo-localization (which allows you to understand where users are connecting from), or even the use of multiple QR codes (which enables you to analyze where the traffic comes from).
The Service Account is particularly different from the Subscription Account because it limits communication with your audience to only four messages per month. However, the account will appear in the “Friends” section of the chat section of WeChat, guaranteeing greater visibility.
Although this account is limited in the number of messages you can send, it does allow you to collect more information about your audience, such as their geographical location and where the traffic is generated. Many companies find this information indispensable when planning and optimizing their offers.
Clearly, it is not possible to define which type of account is the best. This assessment is strictly subjective to each company and how they intend to develop their marketing campaigns.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, as of May 2018, new rules have been introduced that mark an important change in the way foreign companies open a WeChat account.
This new policy now allows companies from over 100 countries to open a WeChat Official Account using their foreign license.
Until May 2018, a company that did not hold a Chinese business license had only two options available to open a WeChat Official Account.
One option was to make a special request to Tencent, the company that owns WeChat, to be registered with a foreign license. The process was rather complicated, took several months to complete and required an initial payment of over $1,100 and an annual payment of about $100. In addition, this was only possible for select countries only.
The other option was to register the account through a Chinese company. The procedure was much faster and cheaper but had a large disadvantage in that the foreign company was not the owner of the account. If, at any time, a problem with the Chinese company occurred, the foreign company could lose the use of the account.
Now, these roadblocks have been removed. The new policy allows for more than 100 countries to register their accounts using same procedures as Chinese companies. Moreover, when the account is opened, there is no longer a need for an initial investment in WeChat Advertising, WeChat’s tool for sending advertising messages.
However, please note that European countries are not currently included in the new policy. Therefore, companies based in the old continent will continue to face difficulties in opening a WeChat Official Account without a Chinese business license.
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.
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.
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. Almost all Chinese companies have their own WeChat Official accounts with WeChat Pay set-up.
Our guide on opening a WeChat Official Account as a foreign business covers everything you need to know about the registration process.
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:
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.
If your business doesn’t have a Chinese bank account, there are two ways you can start offering WeChat Pay as a payment option.
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 Payment account and start accepting payments on your behalf. They’ll then send those payments to you, as outlined in the diagram below:
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:
You’ll need to send WeChat Pay the same documents we’ve covered above, including your business license, ID, and legal information.
Sign it and return it to WeChat Pay, as requested.
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.
Before we wrap things up, it’s worth mentioning that WeChat Pay isn’t the only mobile payment app 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 App||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.
We’ve got you covered.
Opening a WeChat Official Account for a foreign business is simpler today than ever. Doing so opens new opportunities for foreign businesses who want to expand their presence in China.
If you need assistance in opening your WeChat Official Account, or if you want to manage a successful marketing campaign on WeChat, contact US