While consumers in the Western world live in a veritable web of connected devices, shoppers in emerging markets don’t quite have the range of digital amenities that make entering into the mobile payments world a smooth transition. However, Chinese telecom giant Tencent recently unveiled plans to bring fast and easy payments to an entire nation of South African shoppers and retailers.
WeChat, Tencent’s social messenging app, announced Wednesday (Nov. 25) that it had released WeChat Wallet, a standalone mobile payments platform, for all users in South Africa. Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, explained that the new service doesn’t require users to link their digital wallets with bank accounts, allowing faster and easier access to payments for South Africa’s smartphone owners.
“The new digital wallet service is WeChat’s most exciting offering yet,” Loubser said in a statement. “It truly showcases the scope of the platform and provides a safe way for users to store their bank cards and make cash payments on the go in a tech-savvy way. The service is another way WeChat is merging the online and offline worlds, providing users with seamless payment integration in a single application. Now, they won’t be inconvenienced if they forget their purses or money at home because everything they need is at their fingertips.”
Tencent’s WeChat Wallet will allow users to store up to three debit or credit cards issued by either Visa or MasterCard and will work for both Android and iOS platforms. To lay the groundwork for a successful launch, Tencent has already secured partnerships and ensured day-one compatibility with South African businesses, like Standard Bank’s network of ATMs, Cambridge Food Stores’ POS systems and many more.
“Not only does [the WeChat Wallet] give customers the freedom to choose how they stay in control of their finances, it provides them with peace of mind knowing that they can do so safely and securely, with the backing of a banking brand that is committed to being always on and available to them 24/7,” Kheta Mazibuko, head of customer financial solutions at Standard Bank, said in a statement.