Mobile payments

Women drive cross-border transactions on WeChat Pay as ‘she economy’ expected to be worth US$700 billion by 2019

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 10:48am

Female shoppers contributed around 70 per cent of total cross-border transactions on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay in Hong Kong and Macau, and spent it mostly on cosmetics and beauty products, according to a new report published on Thursday.

The payment service integrated into Chinese internet giant Tencent’s do-everything social media app WeChat saw the number of transactions in Hong Kong and Macau grown seven-fold in the first half of 2018, compared with the same period last year.

That has been helped by the fact that payment methods have expanded its accessibility beyond stores and shopping malls to restaurants, taxis and ride-hailing services, and popular tourist attraction sites.

Mainland Chinese shoppers spend the most on cosmetics, daily necessities, and items for everyday convenience, the study found. Notably, the post-90s generation – those born between 1990 and 1999 – has become the main force in spending, accounting for 55 per cent of the transactions, the report said.

The study, jointly released by Tencent, think tank China Development Institute and Chinese travel social network Mafengwo, was based on an analysis of data from one billion WeChat users, including 800 million WeChat Pay users, plus 130 million Mafengwo users. In most cases they were overseas transactions by mainland users in Chinese yuan, and those made in the Greater Bay Area – an area that includes Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in southern Guangdong province.

The Greater Bay Area, which encompasses 65 million people, is home to some of China’s biggest technology companies, including Tencent, Huawei Technologies and drone-maker DJI, all in Shenzhen.

The spending power of women is especially important in the area, driven by the “she economy” which is expected to be worth US$700 billion by 2019, according to Chinese securities company Guotai Junan.

This almost self-contained regional economy, about three times the size of the San Francisco Bay Area, aims to become a world-class centre of advanced manufacturing, innovation, international shipping, finance and trade, according to the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank.

WeChat Pay to keep focus on outbound Chinese tourists in overseas markets

With close to 700,000 people travelling between Hong Kong and the mainland each day, the report highlighted the huge demand for mobile payments in cross-border tourism and consumption.

“Financial technology is an important growth engine in the development of the Greater Bay Area, and the popularisation of mobile payments in the region is the first step in building a world-class fintech bay area,” the report said.

There are around 527 million mobile payment users in China, or 37 per cent of China’s total population of 1.4 billion, according to the China internet Report released this week jointly by South China Morning Post, its tech news site Abacus, and venture capital firm 500 start-ups. Download a free copy of the report here.

Tencent’s WeChat Pay and its rival Alipay, the payment subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding affiliate Ant Financial Services, dominated over 90 per cent of China’s duopoly mobile payments market in 2017, accounting for 35 per cent and 54 per cent respectively, according to the China Internet report.

New York-listed Alibaba is the parent company of the Post.