- WeChat Pay, the mobile payment unit of Chinese messaging app WeChat, is rolling out promotions to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Feb. 16-26 this year, according to a press release by the company. The app is offering Chinese tourists traveling abroad a chance to receive digital rebates based on their spending.
- WeChat users who are traveling to the U.S., Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore can use their smartphones to scan a QR code at participating merchants. The payment app is offering a digital version of the traditional "red envelope" gift that's associated with the annual holiday in many Asian countries. In this case, the envelope is a coupon for 50 yuan ($7.50) after customers spend 500 yuan, in addition to random discounts.
- Tencent-owned WeChat has 980 million active users with more than 800 million who also use WeChat Pay. The payment app is available in 25 countries and can handle transactions in 13 different currencies.
WeChat wants to help pave the way for the millions of customers who are familiar with its payment service that's popular in China and nearby Asian countries. At the same time, it lets retailers honor customers' heritage and culture by helping them celebrate the major holiday through a digital version of the red envelope tradition. WeChat makes this easy for both retailers and customers by automatically transferring the currencies to each's preferred currency. This means that tourists can pay merchants in Chinese yuan and merchants can receive that payment in their local currency, removing a major frustration for many customers and retailers.
The social media app more broadly has expanded its global footprint by partnering with international merchants who recognize that shopping is a key activity for tourists when traveling abroad. Meanwhile, it lets local merchants create a welcoming environment for foreign shoppers, a tactic that may attract more tourists to stores while they travel throughout the holiday. WeChat Pay and rival Alipay are transforming the tradition of the "hong bao" red envelope tradition, per Bloomberg. During last year's New Year break, 46 billion digital hong baos were sent via WeChat, equal to 33 cash envelopes for every person in China. Two years earlier, the ratio was just two-to-one.
China's rapidly growing middle class has emerged as a significant consumer group that is expected to grow to 500 million people by 2022. Their growing spending power is transforming the global travel industry as more Chinese consumers have the disposable income to travel and spend overseas. The number of outbound tourists is expected to reach a record 6.5 million people this year during the Chinese New Year, opening up plenty of opportunities for retailers around the world to develop marketing strategies to attract and engage these tourists.