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WeChat looks to connect with NYC

By Hong Xiao in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-09-14 10:59

China's "app for everything" spread its message in New York on Tuesday.

As a leading social network and Internet platform with global reach, Tencent's WeChat is looking to fulfill the increasing needs of China's outbound tourists.

Some 300 American businesspeople from tourism-related industries in the Greater New York area attended a seminar to introduce the multifunctional app to local merchants who serve the growing numbers of Chinese tourists.

"The whole China community is already involved in mobile internet, even faster than the United States," said Eagle Yi, director of WeChat Pay and WeChat Marketing.

With more than 963 million active users and 600 million WeChat Pay transactions daily, "Chinese people use WeChat in daily working, studying and entertaining," Yi said.

"If there is a term that could describe the super app, you cannot find a better match than WeChat," Yi added.

Now with the growing number of Chinese outbound tourists - in 2016, more than 120 million Chinese tourists traveled outside of China - WeChat is aspiring to expand its network to follow those intrepid voyagers.

"We want to be seen as a facility to help you build the bridge and to provide the best service possible to our outbound tourists and tourists around the world," said Sherry Xie, senior business development manager for Tencent.

Yi also introduced WeChat Payment, a digital wallet service that allows users to make mobile payments and send money between contacts.

"For WeChat Payment, it has become a part of the social media network, and over 1 million stores already are connected and support WeChat Pay in China," Yi said.

According to Yi, because WeChat doesn't have the authority to process financial transactions in the United States, "we are working with our authorized payment service providers, who can legally conduct money transfers working with local merchants here", he said.

"I knew a little bit of WeChat because I did live in China for several years," said Joel Ward, general manager of New York Wheel LLC, a tourist attraction being built on Staten Island.

"As we think of tourists being a lot of groups coming over, but the FIT (foreign independent tourists) travelers are such an important part of this market, particularly with WeChat, that allowing them to pay through WeChat Pay, it's going to be a huge benefit to the tourism business here," Ward said.

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