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Tencent seeking WeChat Wallet partners

Tencent Holdings aims to win over brick-and-mortar business partners in Hong Kong this year for its WeChat Wallet mobile payment service.

Chairman/CEO Pony Ma Huateng says the company is seeking to team up with more retailers as part of an effort to boost local use of its service, which is used by hundreds of millions of shoppers in Mainland China.

“Department stores, supermarkets and convenient stores are our top targets,” he says.

Beauty shop SaSa was the first Hong Kong retailer to let mainlanders use WeChat Wallet to pay for purchases via smartphone when it rolled out the service in 2015. Now Tencent is trying to win over Hongkongers who still prefer credit cards to smartphone-enabled payments.

Ma says exclusive partnership deals between Alipay, the mobile payment tool backed by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding, and some Hong Kong retailers have hindered WeChat Wallet’s expansion in Hong Kong. “But most of these are about to end.”

Both Alibaba and Tencent see Hong Kong as the starting point for their future globalisation in mobile payment, reports the South China Morning Post. They are among five companies granted payment licences from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in August. The licences allow the two companies to offer mobile payment services in Hong Kong’s local currency.

Pony Ma Huateng says the competition in mobile payments in the Hong Kong is more fierce than expected, despite the market being relatively new. “Most of WeChat Wallet’s business in Hong Kong comes from mainland travellers as they are quite comfortable making digital payment by using smartphones to scan quick-response codes.”

WeChat Wallet offers a range of payment-related services in the mainland, from paying utility bills and buying movie tickets to wealth management. In Hong Kong, however, it limits its service to in-store digital payments and transferring money among friends

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