Tencent's WeChat extends payment services overseas

Unlike its major competitor Alibaba which is dedicated to promote Alipay primarily in Asian countries, Tencent has recently announced the launch of its WeChat Wallet in the first country overseas: South Africa.

Chinese technology giant Tencent has extended its popular messaging platform WeChat to South Africa last week with the introduction of the WeChat Wallet to the country -- a digital wallet service that enables consumers to make a payment without paying real cash, according to a Sohu news report.

In a partnership with Standard Bank in South Africa, the service -- which links debit or credit cards to the WeChat Wallet, or even without a bank account if the user accepts cash from other users to make payment -- allows WeChat users to send cash to each other, make P2P transfers, and pay for services such as airtime, data, electricity, and food. Consumers can also pay bills through scanning QR codes at retailers supporting the SnapScan mobile payments platform.

With the number of active WeChat users exceeding 650 million globally, Tencent is speeding up its expansion of payment services in overseas countries on the backdrop of Alibaba's aggressive promotion of Alipay Wallet services in other Asian countries, as well as the anticipation of Apple Pay soon settling in China.

In 2015, Alibaba has heavily promoted its Alipay Wallet -- a similar e-wallet service to WeChat Wallet -- in popular Asian travelling destinations like Japan and Korea, where a great number of Chinese tourists swarm to make purchases.

Despite this, Tencent chose South Africa for its WeChat Wallet overseas debut; multinational media group Naspers, which owns a stake in Tencent, is the biggest media group in the country, and mobile payment service is also very popular in Africa, according to the Sohu report.

Apart from boosting WeChat Wallet's presence in an overseas local market, Tencent has also lifted support for Chinese WeChat users making payment in foreign countries.

In mid-November, Tencent announced WeChat mobile payment system is now available in stores in more than 20 countries, a move to tap fast-growing numbers Chinese outbound tourists.

WeChat Wallet now supports transactions in nine currencies, including the euro, US dollar and Great British pound. Dozens of companies including Taiwan's Hua Nan Bank and Australia's RoyalPay Treadwell Partner are all partnering with Tencent to offer the service across Southeast Asia, West Asia, Europe, America, and Australia.