International travelers visiting China will now find it significantly easier to navigate the country’s mobile payment platforms. According to CNN, Alipay and WeChat Pay have opened their doors to foreign credit cards, allowing travelers to seamlessly link their Visa and Mastercard accounts to the platforms.
The announcement from Alipay, operated by Ant Group and an affiliate of Alibaba Group, paves the way for overseas users to link their cards issued by Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, and Discover to their digital wallets. Tencent, the owner of WeChat Pay, followed suit with a similar announcement. The fintech giants are aiming to attract foreign investment and international travelers to boost China’s economy.
“As the Chengdu [World University Games] and the Hangzhou Asian Games approach, more and more foreign tourists have come to China, and they may need to use mobile payments for basic necessities of life,” the Hangzhou-based fintech giant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group (BABA), said in a prepared statement.
In China, it has basically become impossible for consumers to pay for good and services without a mobile device. According to, more than 80% of daily consumption transactions occur on mobile platforms, with Alipay and WeChat Pay commanding a combined 91% market share in digital payment services.
For travelers, however, paying for goods in China hasn’t been as easy. Typically, they’ve had to link to a Chinese bank account or have a Chinese ID, primarily because international credit cards could not be linked to the apps.
This process, understandably, has been challenging for tourists. But the move by WeChat and Alipay is a significant step in welcoming international tourists to the country. As China emerges from strict COVID-19 restrictions, the payment giants are actively loosening those conditions, opening up a new era for international travelers.
Consumers, no longer burdened by the need for a Chinese bank account, can now seamlessly conduct daily transactions using their Visa or Mastercard accounts, just as they would back home.