by Thomas Lin, Director, Mobile Money & E-Commerce Transaction Banking Client Access
In today’s China, what you do on Mobile Wallets can impact your relationships and credibility. If you have been asked to share your WeChat contact after a business meeting, chances are it went well. If you do business on your mobile, it is perfectly normal for your chat group to be flooded with voice recordings, spreadsheets, payment requests and transaction records. With limited credit card penetration and history in traditional banks, your online purchases, bill repayments, consumer reviews can all translate to your own credit score based on Artificial Intelligence.
Journey to the East
Two years ago, I arrived at Tencent’s Beijing office with a team of international colleagues to explore synergies with WeChat pay. At the time, we had completed over 12 alliances with Telco based Mobile Wallets platforms from Kenya to the Philippines. WeChat was our first tie-up with a social media platform with hundreds of millions of consumers who can bank where they want and still pay on WeChat. As an operating system with open APIs, WeChat gives external developers the tools to support its infrastructure and enrich its services. It was an eye-opener and opportunity in Transaction Banking that many were still just beginning to thinking about.
The Game Changer already arrived
In February 2017, we became the first global bank to achieve a direct integration with Tencent on WeChat Pay. We launched a one-stop solution dubbed SuperConnect that enables clients to accept payments from WeChat wallet, debit and credit cards directly without having to contract individually with unknown tech vendors. We learned that we have succeeded where many others have tried and failed. Since then our WeChat collection solution has been rolled out to a great number of clients in Aviation, Manufacturing, Real estate, Trade, E-commerce, Insurance, Agriculture, FMCG, and logistics industries.
What are Mobile Wallets?
Typically, Mobile Money and Wallets are virtual wallets that can be preloaded with credit (‘stored value’) and accessed via a mobile phone for individuals without a bank account. Mobile Wallet penetration tends to be high where the population is unbanked. According to World Bank, China’s population is 70% banked but WeChat still claims more than 900 million users. Other tech giants such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (popularly known as B.A.T.) also provide Mobile Wallets equipped with loyalty programs and credit ratings. With an integrated and frictionless experience, Mobile Wallets in China have made it socially awkward for users to go back to using cash and cards. But there is a lot more to China’s cashless story than retail user experience.