What started as an IM service now earns more than $10 billion a year.
Powered by Tencent, WeChat is a social media app that’s become one of 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.
Still, WeChat supports social payment capabilities through its WeChat Wallet. With WeChat Wallet, gone is the universal awkwardness that comes with splitting a dinner bill or paying borrowed money to a friend more quickly. The pull for sending money over WeChat Wallet comes from its integration with WeChat’s messaging service. 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.
How do I request and send money with WeChat Wallet?
1. Download the WeChat app. Unlike services like Venmo, you can’t access WeChat Wallet through a website. Instead, you must download an app to your phone or computer.
2. Create your WeChat Wallet account. 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.
3. Add a debit or a credit card. Enter your info and select your bank for verification through your mobile phone number.
4. Set up your transfer. 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.
5. Indicate your transfer amount. 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 compete your transaction.
What happens when someone sends me money?
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 and South Africa — can send accessible money between each other.
What this is 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 US 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 by skimming a percent of your transaction, 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 Asia. 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.
- Requires use through app. Download the app to your phone or computer to begin transferring money.
- 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.