WeChat and AliPay are social media and mobile payments platforms providing innovative ways for people to connect, communicate, share and conduct transactions.
WeChat Pay and AliPay provide a downloadable APP for SmartPhone users.
WeChat and AliPay empowers users in fun and dynamic ways, by bringing together messaging, social communication and games in one seamless, interactive experience, with comprehensive privacy and security settings that can be tailored as needed.
About WeChat and WeChat Pay
WeChat Pay is the payment function within the APP of WeChat. WeChat is widely seen as the WhatsApp of China. In fact, WeChat and WhatsApp, together with LINE and Kakao in Japan and Korea, were all inspired by Kik Messenger.
WeChat was developed by Tencent, which is the creator of QQ, one of the major IM messengers in China and the main competitor of Microsoft’s MSN messenger in the desktop era. Tencent saw Kik Messenger as the new form of IM messenger, because QQ and MSN were not built for the mobile era, and thus created WeChat in 2010.
After years of improvement and growth, WeChat is no longer just a messenger like WhatsApp. It provides a central point of control for users to share voice, photos, videos, and text messages across their entire social ecosystem.
Before WeChat, the social media space in China was heavily influenced by Facebook, which induced a local copycat Renren. In 2012 when WeChat launched version 4.0 as the first social network built for Smart Phones, it gradually attracted all the Renren users and started dominating social media in China. Sina Weibo, the Chinese counterpart of Twitter, suffered as well, and today Renren doesn’t exist anymore.
It wasn’t until 2013 that WeChat launched version 5.0 to enable payment service, dubbed WeChat Pay, about 10 years after AliPay was born. Because of WeChat’s social network DNA, WeChat Pay was first created just to enable P2P transfers and in-app purchases on public accounts.
However, as mobile commerce took off and reshaped lifestyles, WeChat Pay quickly expanded its features and started competing with AliPay in many areas.
Today, WeChat has an estimated 936-million users compared to AliPay at about 400-miillion.
Born in 2004, AliPay was first created as the payment department of Taobao, the B2C platform of Alibaba Group. It was right after eBay acquired Eachnet.com in China, and Taobao saw this acquisition as a major threat for its marketplace business. To enhance its competitive advantage, Taobao tried to solve the biggest pain point in ecommerce in China at that point — the trust between seller and buyer.
Back then, many conversations between sellers and buyers on Taobao failed to result in a transaction, often times because both sides suspected each other as fraudsters. So Taobao introduced AliPay as a 3rd party to temporarily hold the money paid by the buyer, and would not release the money to the seller until the buyer confirms that the product was received and in good condition.
Successfully solving the trust issue, AliPay saw tremendous growth on Taobao platform, and even started to be used on other platforms outside of the Alibaba ecosystem.
Along the way, AliPay put a lot of emphasis on improving payment authorization rate in order to guarantee the best user experience.
For its convenience and reliability, AliPay has also caught on the rising momentum of mobile commerce and became the dominant payment method. As a result, so much cash was sitting in AliPay’s deposit pool that it figured out a way to benefit the shoppers and to further enhance user stickiness, by providing Yu’EBao service, a money market fund for shoppers’ deposits in their AliPay accounts.
With interest rate higher than bank accounts deposit rate, more and more shoppers were attracted to use the Yu’EBao service as a virtual Wallet. It turned out to be a milestone for AliPay, as it was the first step to expand beyond payment service and to become a full-fledged financial services company: Ant Financial.
As of October 2016, AliPay is supported in 70 overseas markets, with in-store payments covering more than 100,000 retail stores, and tax reimbursement via AliPay is supported in 24 countries and regions. AliPay works with over 40 overseas financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese travelling overseas and overseas customers who purchase products from Chinese e-commerce websites.
AliPay supports settlement in 18 different currencies.
Mobile Wallet Payments Significance
Mobile payments refers to payment processes performed via mobile devices versus paying by cash or credit/debit cards.China leads the world in mobile payments due to a boom in online shopping and the various purchasing options available to Chinese consumers.
According to iResearch, China’s mobile payments hit $5.5-Trillion in 2016, 50 times the size of the US’s $112-Billion market, based on Forrester Research figures. E-Wallets account for a 58% of the mobile payments market in China—the highest percentage globally—indicating that mobile payments are an integral part of the Chinese shopping experience. In the US, the figure is just 15% and in the UK, it is 23%.
Mobile payment systems based on NFC and QR code technologies are most common in China.WeChat Pay, is a fully integrated payment solution within WeChat, the world’s most popular mobile social communications service with 936 million active users.Similarly, AliPay is a super lifestyle APP run by Ant Financial Services Group with more than 450 million active users.
Together WeChat Pay & AliPay platforms account for 90% of China’s mobile payments market share and 70% of China’s total population. Both super APPs allow users to book a trip, hail a taxi, order food, book hotels, purchase tickets, manage investments, perform e-commerce transactions, and much more thereby creating a cashless society.
End User Limitations of WeChat Pay and AliPay Mobile Payments
Mobile payments functionality of WeChat Pay and AliPay is only available only to end users having a bank account or UnionPay card in China.
End Users not having a bank account in China can still download and utilize all other features and functionality with the APPs, but they will not have access to make mobile payments purchases.
It is projected in the near future, pending Merchant penetration, that WeChat Pay and AliPay will also be available to U.S. citizens who have a bank account in the United States.
WeChat Pay and AliPay operate the mobile payments networks independently as Acquirers.
Mobile Wallet Payments Utilization
Mobile payments users of WeChat Pay and AliPay can use their respective mobile APPs to purchase goods and services Online and Offline (with the support of the terminal).
In online stores, the customer can select WeChat Pay and AliPay as their preferred payment method and will be presented an item specific QR code on the screen for him to scan and pay. The customer pays in RMB and Merchant will be paid in USD, converted based on daily foreign exchange rate from the USD amount that was charged. This rule also applies to refunds.
At the point of sale (POS), the customer launches the respective mobile APP to open a unique barcode screen, and the Merchant enters the amount of transaction into the terminal and then scans the customer’s unique barcode with the terminal. The terminal will then authenticate the transaction and charge the customer.
U.S. Merchants Mobile Payments Acceptance Viability
Due to the fact Mobile Wallet payments are available for both Online and Offline (face-to-face) transactions, Mobile Wallet Payment are virtually suitable for every Merchant.
Keep in mind, WeChat Pay and AliPay prohibit certain business types from accepting their mobile payment services; no different than the traditional card brands.
For a complete list of prohibited types of businesses, please inquire with us at (818) 572-2525 or email at inbox@earthPayments.com
WeChat Pay & AliPay QR Code Model
The WeChat Pay & AliPay mobile payments networks utilize QR Codes (similar to a barcode) to facilitate transactions. The significant differences between QR Codes and Barcodes is as follows:
- QR Codes display coding both vertically and horizontally versus Barcodes that only display coding horizontally
- QR Codes are capable of retaining several hundred times the amount of coding data in a smaller space, which a conventional barcode is not capable of.
Note: When a new QR Code is generated during a transaction, it is only valid for 1 minute. For now, it cannot be changed.
Note: a QR Code can only be used onetime and expires automatically after a sale occurs.