WeChat, the social messaging app developed by Chinese e-commerce outfit Tencent, has launched a mobile wallet service in South Africa in partnership with Standard Bank.
Up to three chip and PIN debit or credit cards can be saved in the WeChat Wallet and used to load the app's cash balance, pay for services on WeChat such as airtime, electricity, food, or pay SnapScan merchants.
In addition, cash can be sent to friends via WeChat - without the need for a bank account. Instant Money vouchers make up the cash balance, which can be topped up via traditional Instant Money channels.
The firm has partnered with Standard Bank to enable users to cash in and out at the bank's ATMs alongside participating retailers Spar and Cambridge Food Stores.
Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, says: "The service is another way WeChat is merging the online and offline worlds, providing people with seamless payment integration in a single application. Now they won’t be inconvenienced if they forget their purses or money at home because everything they need is at their fingertips.”
For Standard Bank, the partnership is viewed as part of its efforts to maintain social relevance with customers in a changing world.
"This service is just another way that Standard Bank is making banking a seamless part of our customers’ daily lives," says Kheta Mazibuko, head, CFS, personal services, Standard Bank. "Not only does it give customers the freedom to choose how they stay in control of their finances, it provides them with peace of mind knowing that they can do so safely and securely, with the backing of a banking brand that is committed to being always on and available to them 24/7.”
The South African launch comes a week after Tencent announced that it would be opening up the Wallet service to overseas transactions through a partnership with Western Union.
And, while the WeChat Wallet app had previously been confined to Chinese consumers, the company already has an installed base of more than 100 million WeChat messaging users abroad