When you visit China, you will quickly realize that most people in major cities are currently not carrying cash and that they are not paying for EFTPOS. They use WeChat or Alipay applications on their phone instead to pay. My experience is that in every store counter, in every café or restaurant, WeChat is the most used with all QR code scanners. I felt quite frankly as if I had a coffee at Starbucks pulling out cash. This is because the international version of WeChat does not make it easy to set up a wallet feature, requiring you to connect to a local Chinese bank or credit card account.
Tencent has global ambitions for WeChat, which means that I can imagine they will eventually support worldwide credit cards, but they won’t work today. And you could even figure out how to activate the wallet. Fortunately, with a small trial and an error, despite the international version of the app, I was able to enable the wallet for WeChat and even credit my wallet with some Yuan.
Setup a WeChat Wallet on the International Version of the App
- The first thing you need to do is to have a Chinese friend send a Yuan into your WeChat account.
- Any amount works, just as little as 0.10 yuan is okay. Yuan is sent to your WeChat account via WeChat to enable the wallet feature on the app. The wallet does not appear in the international version of the app default, but it is activated by the receipt of some funds. You can view your wallet and balance from the Me tab in the application after activation.
- You can then use the wallet to send WeChat payments to any of your WeChat contacts, though, as the app does not currently support international credit cards or bank accounts you will need to reimburse your balance before time. You can only spend as much on your wallet balance as you have. You have two options to complete your WeChat wallet.
- Way 1: Ask your Chinese friend to send money to your account and pay it back. This is probably the best way to agree on a fair exchange rate, which is close to the official currency rate.
- Way 2: You can also buy Yuan funds for your wallet via PayPal using a third parties service such as Micredits.com. It’s worked well, but it seems to be a little handy. I used it to add some finds to my account. You pay the service effectively in USD through PayPal, then send Yuan manually to your WeChat account. Understandably they cut the exchange rate from USD to RMB… and it’s pretty good. For 100 yuan, whereas the official rate is 100 yuan at < 16 $, I paid USD 24.50 USD. It worked for me, but I do not know that I would recommend it… you’re definitely better off if you could pay a friend and send the money to a wallet.
- WeChat requested a Chinese ID to verify the real name in many cases since April 2018. It looks like Visa and Mastercard are again accepted for identification (not supplement) since August 2018. However, you should carefully add large sums in the wallet. After having bigger sums (> 1000 RMB) in the wallet, I saw people being asked for a Chinese ID.
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