Chinese internet company Tencent (0700.HK) announced today that the company will open WeChat Pay ("Weixin Zhifu") mobile payment API access to verified service account operators on the public accounts platform of the company's WeChat mobile messaging app. Tencent recently completed closed beta testing of WeChat Pay API services for select public account operators including Tencent's B2C e-commerce site 51Buy, vending machine manufacturer Ubox, online ratings and group buy site Dianping, mobile taxi booking app Didi Dache, and dining chain Haidilao Hot Pot, among others.
In addition to allowing for purchases of in-app items, offline merchants can also use WeChat pay to complete checkout through WeChat Pay's QR code scanning feature.
Tencent has confirmed that WeChat Pay access will now be opened to 10 major categories of WeChat public account merchants, including those specializing in general merchandise, apparel and accessories, outdoor and sporting goods, cosmetics, home decoration, auto parts, home electronics and appliances, maternity, and books, but not including local lifestyle service providers. Merchants desiring WeChat Pay API access must complete a four-step application process, including verification of essential business and financial information, before API access is granted.
In contrast to Chinese third-party payment processor Alipay, which doesn't require merchants to pay a security deposit, WeChat Pay currently requires all merchants to pay a security deposit of RMB 20,000 to begin accepting WeChat payments. The service charges a flat transaction fee of 0.6%, lower than Alipay's. According to industry sources, Alipay employs a tiered fee structure, charging 1.2% on cumulative transactions of RMB 60,000 or less over a set period of time, 1.0% on transactions from RMB 60,000 to RMB 500,000, and gradually lowering fees as total transaction value increases. Merchants selling products using WeChat Pay will have funds immediately deposited in their accounts, but be subject to a 7-day lockup period.
According to WeChat, API access to WeChat Pay is currently available only to B2C merchants, but not yet to C2C e-commerce merchants.