What started as an IM service now lets you pay for anything from your dry-cleaning bill to your groceries.
WeChat's wallet feature is a quick and easy way to split a dinner bill, pay a friend back or shop without a physical wallet. If you already use WeChat for messaging and you're registered in China, South Africa or Hong Kong, using it to send money is easy.
Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team over at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.
What is WeChat?
WeChat – locally known as 微信 or Weixin – is a social media app that's become one of the most widely used in China. Because it's governed by China's strong censorship laws and messaging interception rules, the government can potentially review your messages and other data at any time. Given this, it's no surprise that WeChat's had a difficult time catching on internationally.
Can I use WeChat Wallet in Australia?
While WeChat is available around the world, WeChat Wallet is only available for those who have a bank account in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia or South Africa. If you do, you'll be able to use WeChat Wallet in Australia.
At the start of 2018, WeChat Pay launched. This feature lets tourists, expats or international students pay at certain stores in Australia. You can see if your local grocery store offers it by looking for the logo.
How do I request and send money with WeChat Wallet?
Unlike services like PayPal, you can't access WeChat Wallet through a website. Instead, you must download an app on your phone or computer.
Enter your phone number and subsequent verification code, complete your profile and create a password and ID for your account. WeChat asks for access to your contact list to see if you know any other WeChat users. To transfer money, your recipient must be a contact on your account.
To activate WeChat Pay for the first time, ask a friend or loved one to send you either a red envelope (also known as a hongbao) or a small payment. The payment can be as little as CNY¥1. Accept the payment and you'll be taken to the next steps.
Enter your info and select your bank for verification through your mobile phone number. You may also need to add in your ID or passport number. After this, "Wallet" will appear as an option on your "Me" page.
Click the "Me" icon at lower right and choose "Wallet" from the list of services. Select "Transfer" and the contact you would like to transfer money to or request money from. You can also go into your messages with this person and set up the transfer from there.
Specify how much you'd like to send or receive, and add a note if you like. Click "Transfer" again and enter your password to complete your transaction.
What happens when someone sends me money?
The money you’re sent on WeChat is automatically transferred into your WeChat Wallet — meaning you don’t accept or deny payment. By reviewing your balance you can view and manage how much money is in your WeChat account.
Are there restrictions for sending money with WeChat?
Yes. WeChat is not legally allowed to process international money transfers. Be aware that only wallets specific to the areas supported by WeChat — China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Africa — can send accessible money between each other.
What this means is that if you're trying to send money from your wallet in China to someone in South Africa, the money will be sent, but now the recipient in South Africa will also have a Chinese wallet. Unless the user from South Africa heads to China, the money will be useless.
Is sending money over WeChat Wallet safe?
WeChat encrypts your personal information, financial details and monetary transactions. However, WeChat doesn't provide much information on other digital safeguards.
Because WeChat Wallet is based in China, it isn't required to comply with Australian security standards. Keep in mind that the Chinese government monitors all social media devices, including WeChat. So it’s safe from hackers, but no transaction is completely private.
Free service. Unlike PayPal, which makes money through a percentage of your transaction, WeChat's developer Tencent makes money selling other products. While WeChat Wallet is another way for Tencent to sell its products, the service is free to use.
Service limited to certain countries. To use WeChat Wallet, your account must be registered in mainland China, South Africa or Hong Kong.
Potential for government prying. WeChat is governed by China's laws that allow the government to monitor your messages and personal info.
No specified delivery. WeChat doesn't advertise how long it takes for transfers to complete, which means you may need to look elsewhere for emergencies.
Are there other ways I can send money overseas?
While WeChat doesn't have the ability yet to make an international money transfer, there are other providers that can. Learn more about them below. If you'd like the convenience of a mobile app, check out our review on some of the most popular money transfer apps.
Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
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