Ja­pan store to use WeChat pay­ments

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By CHI­NADAILY

Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd is bring­ing its mo­bile pay­ment ser­vices to Ja­pan in a new push to tap into the grow­ing pur­chas­ing power of Chi­nese out­bound tourists.

Start­ing Sept 30, Chi­nese trav­el­ers can useWeChat pay­mentser­vices to­buyprod­ucts at eight Daimaru Mat­suza­kaya depart­ment stores in Ja­pan, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from J. Front Re­tail­ing Co Ltd, the par­ent com­pany ofMat­suza­kaya.

Users can pay bills by scan­ning the quick-re­sponse codes on WeChat, the most pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion inChina, which boasts of 600 mil­lion reg­u­lar users.

Be­cause of the in­flux of Chi­nese tourists, the sales vol­ume of duty-free items in Mat­suza­kaya stores more than quadru­pled­fromMarch to Au­gust this year, com­pared with the same pe­riod a year ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Ja­panese busi­ness news­pa­per Nikkei.

Data from Ja­pan’s trans­porta­tion min­istry show that in the sec­ond quar­ter, visi­tors from the Chi­nese main­land made more than 1.25 mil­lion trips to Ja­pan and spent nearly 18 bil­lion yuan ($2.8 bil­lion).

Ten­cent’smoveis part of its broad ef­forts to ex­pand mo­bile pay­ment ser­vices into over­seas mar­kets. In July, the com­pany said it would part­ner with more than 10,000 Ja­panese stores to of­fer Chi­nese trav­el­ers WeChat pay­ment ser­vices within three years.

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, a ma­jor ri­val of Ten­cent, is also beef­ing up ef­forts to boost the in­ter­na­tional pres­ence of its mo­bile pay­ment tool Ali­pay. The e-com­merce gi­ant is of­fer­ing sim­i­lar ser­vices at more than 30,000 stores in South Korea, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore, and plans to ex­pand the fig­ure to 1 mil­lion within the next five years.

An­a­lysts said the in­ten­si­fied push by In­ter­net com­pa­nies is di­rectly tak­ing on China UnionPay, the coun­try’s largest bank card pro­cess­ing provider.

But “it is dif­fi­cult for In­ter­net com­pa­nies to crack the niche”, said Sandy Shen, re­search di­rec­tor at In­ter­net con­sul­tancy Gart­ner Inc. “China UnionPay has a sprawl­ing pres­ence in over­seas mar­kets.”

As of 2014, China UnionPay has cov­ered more than 150 coun­tries, where over 13 mil­lion stores ac­cept con­sumer pay­ments through bank cards is­sued by the com­pany.

“The at­trac­tion of mo­bile pay­ment plat­forms will hinge upon their pen­e­tra­tion rates. If Alibaba and Ten­cent can’t cover as many na­tions, it will be dif­fi­cult for them to chal­lenge UnionPay’s dom­i­nance,” Shen said.

Ma Ke, a 29-year-old travel en­thu­si­ast, agreed. “It is more cool and con­ve­nient to useWeChat and Ali­pay. But I won’t use them if they are lim­ited to a few­stores.”

Hao Zhu­jing, an an­a­lyst at the Bei­jing-based In­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys In­ter­na­tional, said: “For most con­sumers, scan­ning the smart­phones is not neessar­ily con­ve­nient than swip­ing cards. The key is in cul­ti­vat­ing users’ habits by launch­ing large-scale pro­mo­tions.”

Ma Si con­trib­uted to this story.

YUYA SHINO/ REUTERS

Chi­nese tourists carry pack­ages of Pana­sonic Corp's prod­ucts along Tokyo’s Ginza shop­ping dis­trict.

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