The best alternative payment system, AliPay or WeChat Pay?

Diego Katzman

Diego Katzman
Published 20/04/2021 · 3 min read

Electronic payment systems such as mobile payment are key for the Chinese market

Introducing new payment methods (especially mobile payment systems) is one of the big obstacles faced by merchants who want to take their business further: specifically, those who want to sell more (or start selling) to the Chinese market.

Ecommerce in China: how to sell online to 650 million customers

Ecommerce in China has grown exponentially for 6 consecutive years, and is set to follow the same trend in the coming years. As for the payment methods used by the more than 650 million online customers in China, domestic payment methods are a safe bet for any foreign merchant thinking of entering this market. Already at the beginning of 2019, more than half of Chinese shoppers were using an alternative payment method (such as Alipay or WeChat pay), while the other 40% preferred card or cash.

According to Statista, the 650 million electronic customers are expected to reach one billion by 2023. This market is full of potential for those who know how to offer the best shopping experience to the user.

"My payment gateway already offers PayPal, isn't that enough?" You ask yourself

The reality is that payment gateways differ by country. What could be a common payment method, in the West may be secondary in Asia. In other words: it is not that customers in China do not use PayPal (they do), but they prefer one of the local payment methods, with which they feel more identified and to which they are more accustomed. There are different Chinese payment methods, and if you want to succeed in this new market, you have to choose the right one. Think of it as a form of financial micro-targeting: customising the payment system offer for each market.

Payment systems in China for foreign businesses

Payment systems in the Asian giant are many and varied, and not all of them are easily integrated by businesses coming from abroad. However, you are in luck: the two top payment systems in China are easily adoptable by companies like yours.

The two most popular and effective payment systems for the Chinese customer:

  • Alipay
  • WeChat Pay

Before we explain which one may be the most suitable for your business model, a first tip: if possible, we recommend integrating the two payment systems simultaneously, thus offering a wide range of payment systems to the customer. In this way, your ecommerce would cover virtually all potential buyers who visit your website. However, the reality is that each of them (although they have similar features) is aimed at different audiences.

How do they differ and which is the best payment method for you?

WeChat Pay

WeChat Pay is in the top 3 most popular mobile payment methods in China, and the most recent addition. In its short life, it has managed to spread rapidly thanks to its versatility and user-friendly interface. The reason behind its success? WeChat is not only a payment system, but also a social network and a messaging app. Specifically, it is the most widely used messaging app in the country. It is a whole social and commercial ecosystem: the electronic platform where the Chinese consumer lives. In addition, it offers great advantages for merchants: the merchant fee is low (0.6%), compared to those imposed by credit and debit cards.

In conclusion, WeChat Pay's strenght is the large user base that uses it: it would make you accessible to 90% of Chinese mobile devices (WeChat users), and therefore potential electronic buyers via smartphone. However, it can be a disadvantage: WeChat Pay is designed for mobile shopping. Integrating it into a website designed to be accessible via a PC can be risky and not as effective as integrating another payment method. Therefore, if your customers come and buy in your business mainly through the computer (a trend that occurs when the purchase amounts are higher), it is in your interest to know other payment methods.

Alipay

When it comes to payment methods for online commerce in China, AliPay is usually the first payment gateway that comes to mind. It is not for nothing that it is a pioneer in the electronic payments sector in China, appearing almost at the same time as eCommerce itself. While WeChat has the largest user base (and potential customers through WeChat Pay), it has yet to catch up with AliPay in terms of actual buyers. That is, WeChat Pay brings you closer to more users, AliPay brings you closer to a larger number of buyers. The merchant fee is similar (although slightly lower) to that of WeChat Pay: Alipay charges 0.55%.

As you can see, both payment systems are very similar: both offer online and offline payment, both charge a small commission to the merchant... WeChat Pay is especially suited to merchants whose critical mass is mainly shopping through the smartphone. AliPay, on the other hand, is a safer bet for ecommerce websites. However, as financial experts: we recommend combining the two.

PayXpert, the financial partner with which to sell more internationally

Our goal is to help our customers reach more customers, in the best possible way. Our payment gateway with more than 20 alternative payment methods is all you need to increase your conversion to new national and international customers. Do you want to open up to the Chinese market? Our gateway offers payment systems such as WeChat Pay or AliPay, to make the Chinese customer (whether online or tourist) feel at home.

And so much more! Do you want to know what you can do with one of the leading financial partners? Visit our website and let's start creating the best financial version of your business.

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