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China technology

Tencent’s WeChat widens service fee for users of ‘card repay’ feature in digital wallet

Tencent says move will help build a more sustainable payments model

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 7:33pm

WeChat, China’s largest social platform with around 1 billion users, will expand fees for users who pay their credit card bills via the “card repay” service within WeChat Wallet, bringing the era of free-of-charge services for mobile payments closer to an end.

WeChat, which is operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent, will begin charging a fee of 0.1 per cent on credit card repayment amounts from August 1. However, the service will remain free-of-charge for customers with platinum and gold credit cards and those who save a monthly fixed amount above 500 yuan (US$75) in the “Love Investment Plan”, a finance product offered by Tencent.

Tencent first began charging users in China for the use of the “card repay” service that is featured in the built-in digital wallet service of WeChat in December 2017, but only if the monthly repayment amount exceeded 5,000 yuan.

“In line with international practice, there are no free financial services. WeChat previously paid the credit card repayment fee for users, going forward the new fee chargeable to customers will support sustainable development [of the service],” said a Tencent spokesman in response to a request for comment.

WeChat, known as Weixin in China, has around 1 billion monthly active users and serves as an all-in-one platform for social networking, mobile payments, ride hailing, food delivery and more. About 13.6 per cent of users are signed up for the credit card repayment service, according to data from Penguin Intelligence, a data and analytics firm, which focuses on internet industry trends. Although not the biggest revenue-earner, financial services is a growing business for Tencent, which is also the world's top grossing games publisher.

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WeChat Pay is one of the two leading payment tools in China's mobile payment sector, the other one being Alipay, which is the third-party payment service backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, the parent company of the South China Morning Post.