WECHAT PAY LAUNCHES IN MALAYSIA: Chinese mobile wallet giant WeChat Pay launched a domestic mobile wallet product in Malaysia, called WeChat Pay My, making Malaysia the mobile wallet’s first expansion in Asia outside of China and Hong Kong, according to Finextra. WeChat Pay My will feature peer-to-peer (P2P) functionality and will allow users to pay offline merchants in local currency. To encourage adoption among Malaysian consumers, WeChat is running a week-long “free money” promotion offering a virtual money pack worth between RM3.88 ($.95) to RM88.88 ($21.70) to anyone who signs up, which will be applied to their mobile wallet balance. KK Super Mart, a major chain store, is the first partnering store. It’s worth noting that the wallet doesn’t yet have bank partnerships.
WeChat Pay is laying the groundwork for adding a local payments service in Malaysia.
- WeChat already has a wide user base in Malaysia. As of late 2017, WeChat counted 20 million active users throughout the country, which has a total population of 31 million. WeChat Pay My could use its convenience to build a user base around existing WeChat users in Malaysia who prefer the familiarity of WeChat and don’t want to sign up for or download a new service. WeChat’s penetration in Malaysia could lead to the mobile firm replicating the success that WeChat Pay saw when it launched in China after the chat app had a robust user base.
- WeChat Pay might face obstacles from already established mobile wallets in Malaysia. Malaysia’s central bank has been promoting electronic payments and has issued e-money licenses to 44 nonbank entities in the last two years alone. One of the most notable license recipients was Grab, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company that created the Grab Pay mobile wallet late last year. Grab is partnered with Malaysia’s biggest bank and has a wide-reaching network through its ride-sharing counterpart, claiming that GrabPay is already on half of all mobile phones in Malaysia, posing a threat to WeChat Pay My in the country. WeChat Pay should therefore continue encouraging adoption of this new wallet through promotions and store partnerships, while leveraging its massive network to reach potential users.
Adding a domestic mobile wallet in Malaysia differs from WeChat Pay’s traditional growth strategy. WeChat Pay and rival Alipay have expanded rapidly, to varying success, to cater to the growing population of Chinese tourists who want to spend with mobile wallets abroad, amid mobile wallet saturation in China. But establishing a local payment service in Malaysia, targeted at Malaysian consumers, marks a different approach by WeChat Pay. If WeChat Pay My is successful, it can serve as a blueprint for WeChat Pay to target other countries in Asia, which can ultimately allow the firm to grow market share on the continent