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While it may be a no-brainer for retailers around the world that accepting UnionPay cards can enhance the Chinese customer experience, it pays to be up-to-date on the next frontier of Chinese payment methods.
Last week, Japanese department store Daimaru Matsuzakaya announced that, starting September 30, Chinese travelers will be able to pay for items with a quick mobile phone scan through WeChat payment. The adoption of the new Chinese payment method comes after the store saw its sales volume more than quadruple from March to August as a result of Japan’s massive Chinese tourist influx.
The move is part of a competition on the part of rivals Alibaba and Tencent to promote their third-party payment systems globally. Tencent plans to partner with over 10,000 Japanese retailers within the next three years, while Alibaba is offering mobile payments through Alipay at 30,000 stores in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Alipay plans for this number to reach 1 million in the next five years.
These third-party payment platforms are responding to massive Chinese demand for mobile payments. In 2014, the People’s Bank of China processed RMB22.59 trillion (US$3.61 trillion) in mobile transactions, marking a 134 percent year-on-year increase. While U.S. companies like Apple and credit card companies are still working to convince American consumers of the merits of mobile payments, Chinese consumers have already been sold on the practice, mainly using mobile payments through Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent's TenPay.
For retailers hoping to gain the loyalty of traveling Chinese consumers across the globe, accepting mobile payment methods is becoming just as much of a must as UnionPay. Whether this is through Alipay, WeChat, or possible future competitors trying to move in on the market (such as Apple) it’s crucial to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible for this valuable customer segment.