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WeChat Pay and China Union Pay join forces

(Various sources: Kuaibao, 9 January 2020)

On the 3rd January 2020, Tencent signed an agreement with China Union Pay – the China banking card industry association, to share QR codes between WeChat Pay and China UnionPay App. The agreement provides for mutual recognition and mutual scan of their QR codes.

In the third quarter of 2019, the total value of China mobile payments reached 52 trillion RMB, up by 5.68% over the same period of the previous year. The market share by value was topped by Alipay (53%), followed by WeChat Pay (39%), while the share by China UnionPay App was negligible.

Even though the annual mobile payment value of China UnionPay App was only about 10 billion RMB in 2018, it is supported by its nearly 300 association members led by the four largest Chinese commercial banks – the Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Agricultural Bank of China.

In China, currently there are approximately 400 different barcode payment Apps, each operated in accordance with nearly ten different barcode payment standards respectively. As a result, users of mobile Apps have to repeatedly register various Apps. The payment situation tends to lead to a monopoly, resource waste, and illegal practices such as money laundering, and illegal use of users’ private information.

According to its financial technology development scheme for 2019 – 2021 announced by the central bank (People’s Bank of China) in September 2019, China’s financial institutions are being encouraged to link the different barcodes to the uniform standards for barcode encoding.  This aims to break through barriers to barcode pay services and realise the mutual recognition and mutual scan of different Apps and different business barcodes.

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