ANNOUNCEMENT 06 Nov 2019
November 7th, 2019 - The owners of WeChat Pay and Alipay, the two primary providers of non-cash payment in China, open the service up to foreigners.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
Xinhua News, November 7th, 2019. (蚂蚁金服井贤栋：外国人用支付宝“请进来”)
Bloomberg News, November 6th, 2019. 'Alipay, WeChat Pay Open Apps to Foreigners Visiting China'
On November 6th, 2019, according to consistent news reports and announcements from the respective company representatives, the two Chinese non-cash payment providers WeChat Pay and Alipay opened their service up to foreigners in the PRC.
Previously, a Chinese bank account had been necessary to use the services. Often, even a bank account was not enough, with foreigners being subjected to mandatory facial registration for 'security' purposes in order to use the services.
This was an issue for foreign tourists, travellers and businesspeople while in China as mobile payment is the de facto standard. Even farmers in remote rural markets use the systems despite having little other technological presence in their lives. It is common for sellers to refuse cash payment entirely, relying solely on WeChat and Alipay to receive funds.
Wechat Pay and Alipay have an effective duopoly on this market and are closely monitored by the state.
The sudden and simultaneous change indicates a change in regulatory stance. This is backed up by information contained in various media reports.