WeChat begins requesting service fee for use of ‘Card Repay’ feature in Wallet

Updated 2017-12-06 10:20:42 Global Times

"Actually, I'm taking WeChat's service fee well because I can choose other ways to repay my credit card bills, such as via Alipay, which does not ask for a service fee for now," Du Li, a 30-something white-collar worker living in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. "Also, the 5,000 yuan quota offered by WeChat is a lot for me," she said.

"Of course, there are cases when users spend more than tens of thousands via credit card each month. If their consumption has already reached such a high level, the user will not care about the 0.1 percent service charge," Du noted

What does the future hold?

After WeChat decided to charge a Card Repay service fee on Friday, public curiosity piled up regarding whether its competitor Alipay will also follow suit. In October 2016, Alipay began charging its users 0.1 percent for transferring amounts of money from the platform to their bank accounts that surpass the 20,000 yuan free quota.

WeChat and Alipay's decisions to start charging service fees last year shows they do not want to be mere money-transferring tools, but to instead have wider impacts by attracting users to spend money via the platforms, helping to bridge users and offline commercial activities, an industry expert, who only gave his surname as Chen, told the Global Times Monday.

Experts have said that WeChat's service fee request sends a signal that the free-of-charge era within the mobile payment sector seems to be coming to an end, especially as online payment platforms continue keeping a foothold in the market by attracting online sources and covering various payment needs.

With the rapid growth of the mobile payment sector in China, domestic online payment titans are now transforming their business focuses and future competitive scenarios by providing users with more financial services, such as credit, capital management, insurance and marketing, Fu noted.

Chinese mobile payment companies will also eye foreign markets in the future, Fu said, adding that apart from markets in Southeast Asia, domestic online payment platforms have already began expanding presence in the US as well as countries and regions in Europe and Africa.

For example, Alipay has so far entered more than 10 countries in Europe, including the UK, France and Italy, according to media reports. WeChat also linked up with German mobile payment service provider Wirecard AG in July to tap European markets. But such platforms shoulder heavy responsibilities and still have a long way to go, said Fu.

Experts said payment safety will become a key priority in the mobile payment sector, and as consumption continues to upgrade across China and as the Alibaba-powered "New Retail" mode continues to be adopted, the sector is likely to undergo a big reform in the near future.

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