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What is WeChat Pay?

In the modern age, technology continues to overlap and blur the lines between defined categories. Television, film and video streaming are no longer the separate entities they once were and can now be found from a single point of contact. The way we shop, bank, listen to music, and share images continues to evolve.

This is also true for the way we communicate. SMS text messaging is already falling by the wayside as new apps and services offer free international messaging and calling, along with an easy way to share pictures, links and videos. WeChat is one such service. It’s a very popular mobile communication service with over 900 million users.

Founded in China, the app has many features including the ability to exchange messages, send images and videos, and play games. More recently, it has added WeChat Pay – a way to quickly pay friends, family and businesses through the convenience of a messenger app.

How to Make a Payment

Having passed through the bedding-in period, WeChat Pay is now a very convenient method of payment. This is especially true for native users in China, though the payment system is increasingly being accepted all over the world. In the past few months, WeChat Pay has even been accepted at stalls in London’s Camden Market.

There are a few different ways that users can make a payment. The Quick Pay feature is one of the easiest to use. The buyer opens up their Quick Pay page which displays a QR code. The vender then just scans the QR code for a quick payment. Alternatively, the vendor can create individual QR codes for various products. Scanning these allows potential buyers to see useful information related to the product. This can include information on the product itself, or a guide to making the transaction.

Buyers can also make payments through in-app web-based transactions. This comes in the simple form of a button on the sales page, which offers the user the option to pay with WeChat Pay. This works in the same way as a PayPal button. If a business intends to use it quite frequently, they can incorporate it across other apps too. In this instance, the user can choose to make a purchase via WeChat Pay. They’ll briefly be transferred to the app to finalise payment, then returned to the original retailer. The process is quick and easy. This is increasingly important to consumers these days, whether it’s for fast food service or the fastest paying online casinos.

International buyers can make purchases in a wide array of currencies. This includes GBP, USD and euros, along with many other currencies.

Fees

In March 2016, WeChat Pay controversially introduced fees for withdrawing money via the app. Since the fees have been introduced, users have had to pay 0.1% in charges. This is only for transactions that send funds from the user’s WeChat Pay wallet to their personal bank account. It’s also only for withdrawals of 1,000 yuan or more, which is a little over USD $150.

The minimum charge is set at 0.1 yuan. However, the company simultaneously announced it would be scrapping its large transactions fee, which was previously a 0.1% monthly fee on withdrawals of 20,000 yuan or more. That’s around USD $3,000 and change.

Government Regulation

New rules in the Chinese financial industry mean that WeChat Pay is under increased regulation from banking authorities. A statement from the People’s Bank of China reads: “Starting on June 30, 2018, payment agencies involved in the online payment business that accept bank accounts will have to use Wanglian (网联, meaning network platform or Non-Bank Internet Payment Union). By October 15, 2017, banks and payment companies should migrate their business to Wanglian.”

In short, the banks have intervened to prohibit third party apps from making transactions amongst themselves. Whilst this may be problematic for the companies involved, it does mean that the banks should be able to clamp down on untoward behaviour. This includes money laundering, theft, and problems withdrawing funds.

How to Create a WeChat Pay Account

Setting up a WeChat Pay account is not very easy if you live outside of China, but it can be done. There are a few things you’ll need to set up an account which could make things difficult for some users.

First off, you’ll need a regular WeChat account. You can download the app for free, and if your friends are using it, you’ll be able to send them messages and more. You’ll also need a passport, a phone that will be linked to your bank account and a Chinese bank account.

Open the app and find the ‘Wallet’ section. If you’ve downloaded the international version of WeChat, you may not see this option. If this is the case, a neat workaround is to change the language settings to Chinese. This should update the menu to show the wallet. You can change the language back later and the wallet will stay there.

Next, you need to add your bank card details. Note that as things stand this must be a Chinese bank account. Enter the details as shown. Also keep in mind that, unlike many western equivalents, the information here is case sensitive. Submit the completed information and your phone will then be linked to your bank account.

If you don’t have a Chinese bank account, you may be able to verify your account using your regular debit or credit card. But results on this are inconsistent. The ideal solution is to use a Chinese bank account where possible.

Alternatives to WeChat Pay

If you don’t feel WeChat Pay would be right for you, or if it’s not accepted much in the venues and online shops you use, there are several other options which work with a similar format. The biggest competitor to WeChat Pay is Alipay, which is backed by the minds behind Alibaba. But there are others too. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay can also be used to make deposits and withdrawals at several online casinos on the market.

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