How to Add a Foreign Card to WeChat Pay & Alipay
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
On 5 November 2019, Visa Greater China has announced its cooperation with Tencent for overseas cardholders to use WeChat Pay when traveling in mainland China. Visa believes that this is not only good news for consumers who are traveling to mainland China but also a piece of exciting news for the entire payment industry.
On the same day, Ant Financial published a statement that a mini-program called Tour Pass is launched by Alipay and it allows foreign tourists and expats to use international cards to top up a prepaid card, with which they are able to utilize Alipay to pay for goods and services in China. This is the first time that Alipay has made an e-wallet open to its users outside of China.
Previously, the international version of Alipay was only available to consumers with Chinese bank accounts and local mobile numbers. This change is designed for international travelers and expats who need to register with their overseas mobile phone numbers in order to use the feature of Tour Pass on the e-wallet.
WeChat Pay’s Solution
Tencent has entered into a series of cooperation with five international card schemes including Visa, Mastercard, AmericanExpress, Discover Global Network (including Diners Club) and JCB to support overseas credit cards binding via WeChat Pay. It allows users to do dozens of online services including purchasing tickets at 12306.com (a parallel version of Trainline in China), ride-hailing services Didi, e-commerce app JD, travel booking app Ctrip, etc.
How to Set up WeChat Pay with International Credit Card
More user scenarios of Wechat Pay is expected to be further released in an orderly manner under the strict supervision and regulation as well as the implementation of anti-money laundering policies.
According to the report of Tencent Financial Technology, WeChat Pay has directly integrated with five international card schemes. The entire card-binding experience is very smooth, similar to the binding experience of Union Pay card, and during the journey, the user is obliged to input the relevant card information according to the requirements of the foreign card organization.
However, the biggest problem of this solution is that the user scenarios are limited, where only the merchants ( more than ten by far) with foreign card acquiring are supported to offer WeChat Pay with international cards.
Ant Financial announced that international users could use the overseas debit card or credit card with the help of the mini-program called Tour Pass to top up the prepaid card offered by Bank of Shanghai. The minimum threshold of top-up is 100 CNY, and the upper limit is 2,000 CNY. In addition, the users could top up by several times.
Alipay hit upon the accessible solution in virtue of the prepaid cards of Bank of Shanghai, through which the users can top up and make payment in different scenarios. The whole payment experience is almost identical to the domestic e-wallet of Alipay.
Tour pass is an electronic consumer card ( or the prepaid card) developed by Bank of Shanghai, and the funds are handled by Bank of Shanghai. At present, it only supports the user to purchase one electronic consumer card during the period in China, but it can be topped up by several times. The prepaid card by Alipay Quick pay covers different scenarios, including QR code scan and other functions.
How to Set up Alipay Tour Pass
Only support to be registered with an overseas mobile phone number
It seems that it cannot be bound to a mainland ID card. Currently, Hong Kong and Macao users are not supported either.
Please download the international version of Alipay APP on Google Pay or Apple Pay, not Alipay HK or Chinese domestic Alipay APP
Searching for Tour Pass on the international version of Alipay APP
Top up the prepaid card in Tour Pass by Selecting a certain amount
Submit your passport information and card information
Once it's done successfully, the prepaid card issued by Bank of Shanghai in your Alipay account:
1. will be valid for 90 days.
2. No transaction fee is charged till and including 31 Dec 2019.
3. The foreign exchange rate occurring during the top-up process follows the prevailing exchange rate of Bank of Shanghai
4. The unused amount after the validity of 90 days will be returned to the original international cards.
It can be seen that the Alipay solution seems to be more optimistic and suitable for more consumer scenarios, but the entire user experience is limited by the prepaid card threshold.
Compared with the foreign cards payments solutions of WeChat Pay and Alipay, each has its own merits.
(1) Card-Binding Experience
In terms of the card-binding experience with international cards, WeChat payment performs better than Alipay since the card is tied in accordance with the original habits of international users, while Alipay makes use of prepaid cards as well a mini-program, which may be an unaccustomed habit for international users.
(2) Payment Experience & Available Scenarios
In terms of payment experience and user scenario availability, Alipay stands the upper hand over WeChat Pay. After all, WeChat is limited to merchants that support foreign card acquiring and it is estimated that it will take a long time to spread the solutions to more merchants, while Alipay could cover almost all offline user scenarios.
(3) Operation Model
Alipay provides only an online platform or an APP in this solution, most of the tedious work such as settlements, exchange rates, etc are completed by Bank of Shanghai. In other words, the transaction is essentially done between Bank of Shanghai and international customers’ overseas banks. In the WeChat Pay solution, it has nothing to do with the networking and the international card schemes provide services such as settlement, clearing exchange, and transaction information exchange.