Soon You Might Not Need An Internet Connection to Make Payments Using WeChat

Soon You Might Not Need An Internet Connection to Make Payments Using WeChat

by August 8, 2019

In July, Tencent’s super-app WeChat ran a trial that enabled passengers of two Spring Airlines flights between Shanghai and Chengdu to make offline payments while flying, reports Abacus.

Passengers could sign up for the trial service, called WeChat on the Machine, before boarding and successful applicants were given the ability to use the WeChat mobile app to purchase food and beverages, souvenirs, blankets and in-flight services while on the plane.

Bills were stored on the app until the airplane landed, and when devices were connected back to the Internet, payments were automatically made.

The new payment feature is currently restricted to one airline but the tech giant said it plans to expand it to other airline services soon. The company said, however, that the functionality will only be available for WeChat users with scores above 550 in its commercial social credit program. Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat operate their own credit initiatives.

WeChat’s new offline payment feature could open up new opportunities for the tech giant which has been exploring offline services people can use in daily life, Allen Zhang Xiaolong, known as the father of WeChat, said at the annual WeChat conference last year.

In March, the company tested a new feature enabling merchants to offer special deals and promotions to regular customers, reports TechNode. The “Friend Membership” feature allows businesses to develop and roll out different promotional campaigns with greater convenience, and is part of WeChat’s broader plan to expand its offline payment service, targeting specifically smaller businesses.

WeChat Pay rival Alipay too have been expanding offline. At Hong Kong’s Smart Mobility Technology in October 2018, Alipay demonstrated its new EasyGo service, a QR code-based payment system designed for public transit that can process transactions offline, reports ComputerWorldHK. The service supports “dual offline” payment functionality to allow payments to be completed even if network quality is poor.

WeChat is China’s largest social networking platform with more than one billion active users monthly, while Ant Financial’s Alipay counts over 500 million monthly active users.

Mobile payment is a big thing in China. According to a statistical report from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), about 583 million people used mobile payment in 2018, up 10.7% from the year prior.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, China’s third-party mobile payment market reached RMB 47.2 trillion (US$7.01 trillion), a 7.8% quarter-on-quarter increase, says a report from Beijing-based market consultancy firm Analysys.

Alipay dominated the market with a 53.8% market share. Tencent’s Tenpay, which includes WeChat Pay and QQ Wallet, came in second at 38.9%. The two tech giants combined market share of 92.7%, according to the report.

In addition to continuously coming up with new, innovative payment products, Alibaba and Tencent have set their sights on foreign markets including Southeast Asia, Europe and North American.


Featured image: WeChat Pay.