SINGAPORE: Chinese social media giant WeChat is continuing to expand its footprint in Singapore, bringing WeChat Pay to ComfortDelGro taxis from next month, said Ms Grace Yin, operation director of WeChat Pay International Business, on Thursday (Mar 15).
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia at the sidelines of the ongoing Money 20/20 conference, Ms Yin disclosed the partnership as an example of how the company is targeting business users first in bringing Tencent’s services via its social media platform to this market.
“Our focus is to target the businesses and merchants that service the Chinese tourists,” the executive explained, adding that their other partners here include Changi Airport and various stores at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands like TWG Tea Salon.
From April, there will be “much more”, she added without disclosing more details.
The ComfortDelGro partnership comes on the heels of Chinese rival Ant Financial offering its Alipay service to the taxi operator last August, as they too target Chinese tourists in efforts to expand globally.
Asked how WeChat is differentiating itself from the competition, Ms Yin explained that Tencent’s product is first and foremost a social media and communications platform between users. Electronic payment is only one part of a wide range of services available to WeChat users, she added.
For business users, it means they can use WeChat Pay as a communication and marketing channel to drive repeated sales as well as a means to conduct cross-border sales via e-commerce, she said.
The rollout of WeChat Pay in Singapore will, however, be gradual as the country’s user base for the app is “not among the top in Asia”, Ms Yin pointed out.
In comparison, Malaysia has 20 million WeChat users, according to a Reuters report in November, which helps to shorten the process of familiarising consumers in that market to the services available on the platform, the WeChat executive explained.
Acknowledging that expanding to other markets will always have its challenges, she cited the example of how third-party mobile payment players were regarded with “distrust” in Thailand last year, but this has changed over time due to familiarity to the system.
“We are now enjoying a favourable environment (in Thailand),” she said.