24th July 2023 - 3 min read
China’s popular mobile payment apps, Alipay and WeChat Pay, both announced that they have enabled support so that visitors can now link international credit cards to these payment apps, including Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. This means that you’ll have an improved cashless payment experience as you pay for purchases and services just like a local while travelling across China.
In a statement, Alipay – which is operated by Ant Group – said that users will be able to link Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, and Discover cards to its platform – after which they can then pay for purchases with Alipay as they travel within the republic country. Meanwhile, WeChat Pay allows the linking of Visa, Discover Global Network (including Diners Club), JCB, and Mastercard cards.
Tencent, who owns WeChat Pay, also shared a detailed guide and FAQ on how to link international cards to its mobile payment platform. Key details include a user’s transaction limit and applicable fees. Specifically, there is a spending limit of 6,000 renminbi (RMB) per transaction, as well as a cumulative limit of 50,000 RMB and 60,000 RMB per month and year, respectively.
As for fees, WeChat Pay charges a transaction fee of 3% for any payments that exceed 200 RMB; otherwise, the 3% fee will not be applicable. It is uncertain if these transaction limits and fee apply to Alipay as well. Exchange rates, on the other hand, will be determined by the card organisation and issuing bank.
This latest update is a significant step forward for Alipay and WeChat Pay, both of which have been pushing for the acceptance of foreign credit cards since a while back. China’s tight regulations have posed some challenges to their efforts; however, in 2019, both of the payment giants received permission to allow the use of foreign credit cards on their apps. That said, only select Chinese merchants were allowed to process the cards.
Now, overseas visitors to the country can expect to enjoy a much better cashless payment experience, especially given the fact that most Chinese shops and restaurants generally prefer to accept mobile payments these days, instead of credit cards or cash. Prior to this, visitors often had to resort to cash payments as you must have a mainland Chinese bank account and local mobile phone number in order to sign up for an Alipay or WeChat Pay account (although there was an Alipay Tour Pass that you could previously enable).
For Malaysians in particular, this development ultimately translates to a wider range of cashless payment options when we travel to China as even before this, we were already able to make cross-border cashless payments in the republic country through Touch ‘n Go (TNG) eWallet. TNG eWallet had partnered with Alipay+ to become the first Malaysian e-wallet that can be utilised for payments in China.
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