The Chinese mobile duopoly of Alipay and WeChat are all things to all people in that country. Additionally, the two mobile platforms have partnered with other payment providers for access by Chinese tourists as the following Forbes article describes.
China’s growing outbound tourism market was one of the biggest travel stories in the last decade. As disposable incomes rose, Chinese residents chose more outbound destinations over domestic trips for their holidays. The Chinese government also entered into agreements with other nations to make it easier to go abroad.
This boosted China’s outbound tourism, posting the greatest absolute growth in the number of outbound trips over 2012-2017, according to Euromonitor International. More impressively, China has been the largest outbound travel market since 2012, with Chinese travelers now collectively spending more than Americans and Germans when traveling abroad. China is set to increase its lead over other countries, with Euromonitor projecting China to show the largest increase in outbound spending between 2017 and 2030.
As more Chinese consumers started to go abroad, these consumers were also being introduced to a mobile-first lifestyle. Chinese consumers were among the first to embrace the multifunctionality of mobile devices, using these new gadgets to interact with one another and with brands. Eventually, Chinese connected consumers started to use such devices to purchase a wide array of goods and services. For the first time in 2015, Chinese consumers made more purchases through mobile phones than computers. As of 2017, 73% of digital purchases were mobile-based, according to the latest data from Euromonitor.
Alipay and WeChat Pay have built all-encompassing mobile commerce platforms that do just about anything related to commerce and social interaction in China. There is nothing like either of them in the West which has many more mobile payment players and financial institutions. And Alipay and WeChat Pay will not gain a foothold outside Asia due to competitive and regulatory hurdles. However, Western mobile platforms can certainly emulate some of the mobile features and integration that have created a user base of over 1 billion people in China.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group