Chinese payment apps WeChat Pay and Alipay are used by hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. And they are so much more than just an app for moving money. They are a social network, a wealth management service, bill pay service, a communications platform, a ride – hailing, restaurant food ordering mega-app. And now, they expanding further by adding public services through government agencies as well. GovInsider explains:
With hundreds of millions of users across Chinese cities, the apps are bringing public services onto a single app and saving users’ time. In addition to applying for visa, marriage and divorce appointments, users can also apply for a business license or pay for a fine without having to queue up at a government office.
“It used to be the case that you would have to go to the traffic bureau, but now you can pay the fine using Alipay”, says a spokesperson from Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay and an affiliate of Alibaba Group. The same functions also exist for WeChat Pay, which is owned by Tencent.
These apps define consumer (and in some instances, business) pain points and seek to improve the experience through technology. Imagine not having to stand in line at the DMV to get your photograph taken and driver’s license renewed. The environment in China that allowed these apps to flourish does not exist in western countries, but WeChat and Alipay are certainly aspirational.
Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group