QR codes offer Tencent a fresh opportunity in Southeast Asia

QR Codes - Payments - Southeast Asia Map

The quick response barcodes offer a new way for the Chinese company to expand in mobile payments.

Tencent is looking to QR codes as a strong opportunity to expand its mobile payments system throughout more of Southeast Asia, using its WeChat Pay.

The Chinese giant’s digital wallet is already ubiquitous domestically

Tencent spoke at the edge of the Money 20/20 conference this year on the subject of technology in Asia.  There, a company exec said that by linking QR code mobile payment systems cross-border, WeChat Pay – called Weixin Pay in China – would be able to open up new digital wallet interoperability opportunities. Additionally, the platform would be better able to serve tourists in China as well as Chinese tourists traveling elsewhere in South Asian countries.

QR Codes - Tencent HQ

“As the infrastructure is being unified, it would be easier for us to eventually help the economy grow on both sides,” said Tenpay Global deputy managing director of business development Wenhui Yang.  Tenpay Global is the cross-border payments unit at Tencent.

QR codes are very familiar within that region and are commonly used to complete transactions.

Two years ago, Tenpay Global launched a new system that brought over 10,000 singapore hawker center merchants together under the SGQR barcode through Weixin Pay.  It was possible for these types of initiative to be replicated throughout the entire Southeast Asian market, according to Yang.

If Tencent puts the system into place, it would mean a region-wide integration and would let Chinese users pay for their purchases by scanning the national QR codes throughout Southeast Asia. At the same time, it would connect WeChat Pay with other digital wallets already established in the region. 

As was reported earlier by QR code press, Japan is investigating a similar mobile payments strategy using the barcodes.

Yang did concede that for this to be successful, Tenpay Global will be required to improve its overseas branding efforts as the domestic market remains the company’s main focus.  Within China, WeChat Pay already has around 935 million active users.

As large as that figure may be, when it comes to cross-border payments, it is lagging far behind its top rival, Alipay+, precisely because WeChat is barely used outside China’s borders. Alipay+, on the other hand, has undergone aggressive expansion in international markets.

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