This morning (Sept. 18) the U.S. Department of Commerce posted an announcement that it is banning the use of TikTok and WeChat in the U.S. Here’s an excerpt from that announcement:
In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) today announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S. Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.
I am no policy wonk, but I am pretty sure that from a payments perspective, this will prevent Chinese visitors in the U.S. from using WeChat Pay at accepting merchant locations. While the total ban on all WeChat services—not the payment piece—may be significant, blocking WeChat payments is not particularly detrimental.
There aren’t that many U.S. locations that accept WeChat Pay and also, due to the pandemic, the number of Chinese visitors is down. What I find curious is that there is no mention of a ban on Ant Financial’s Alipay app which provides many similar services as WeChat and is much more widely accepted in the U.S.
Perhaps the greater threat is that the Chinese government may take similar or stronger actions against U.S. merchants with a footprint in China who rely heavily on these apps to communicate with their customers.
Just as we are wrapping our minds around the impact of this announcement, we find that Paytm, the wildly popular app in India, has been banned, at least temporarily, from Google Play. Here’s what TechCrunch reported on this evolving story:
Google has pulled the popular Indian financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies. Paytm is India’s most valuable startup and claims over 50 million monthly active users. Its marquee app, which competes with Google Pay in India, disappeared from the Play Store in the country earlier Friday.
Google said that Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Paytm, which has promoted fantasy sports service within its marquee app, repeatedly violated Play Store’s policies, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Paytm’s fantasy sports service, called Paytm First Games, was also available as a standalone app and it has been pulled from the Play Store, too.
Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group