WeChat Pay is expanding into the United Kingdom next month.
China's biggest mobile payments platform in terms of number of transactions will offer a new payment option to British retailers looking to attract Chinese shoppers.
“In overseas markets like Europe, we'll keep focusing on the development of services to best serve EU companies interested in leveraging digital channels to foster business opportunities with Chinese customers,” said Andrea Ghizzoni, European director of Tencent, the company that owns WeChat.
In the UK, WeChat Pay has linked up with the British payments company Tramonex, which will help WeChat Pay integrate its payments infrastructure with British retailers.
“We know we can bring real value to the WeChat Pay solution and the entire team is very excited about this opportunity,” said Amine Berraoui, CEO of Tramonex. “This arrangement goes a long way in developing Tramonex's footprint and awareness within Asia and completely opens up the East-to-West corridor, fulfilling the goal of facilitating global flows.”
WeChat Pay's foray into Italy in 2015 enabled Italian merchants to accept mobile payments from Chinese customers by scanning a barcode.
France and Germany are to be next European destinations for WeChat Pay, which has 800 million users in China, thanks to WeChat, China's largest social media network in terms of daily users.
They use WeChat Pay in wide-ranging ways: for restaurants bills, online and offline shopping, digital transactions for hotel bookings and travel tickets, and even to pay street vendors.
WeChat Pay's European expansion follows that of Alipay, another Chinese mobile payment company, which is an affiliate of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
With two years of operating history in the UK, Alipay has linked up with powerful European banks, including BNP Paribas, Barclays and UniCredit, enabling 930,000 merchants to join its payment network.
In the UK, Alipay is accepted at many luxury stores and brand retailers, including Harrods in London. Alipay has 450 million active users in China.
Ghizzoni said WeChat Pay is already available at more than 50 locations in Italy, including large fashion and luxury brand outlets, retail companies and the hospitality industry.
“Revenues are already in the range of millions, and we expect them to grow significantly this year,” he said.
Ghizzoni said WeChat Pay is also working with clients to find ways to promote their products to Chinese consumers, leveraging on WeChat's advertising capabilities and Tencent's cloud solutions.
“All these tools can prove extremely successful to help Western brands reach and serve Chinese consumers in a consistent and effective manner,” he said.