Western Union, WeChat Pay Team Up in GlobalPay for Students

May 3, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

College students need money. At least, that’s how it was when I was in college and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that’s changed. For Chinese students studying abroad, getting that cash can be even tougher than it is for those who live in the same country as their parents. That may not be such a problem now, however, that Western Union has teamed up with WeChat Pay to add the underdog mobile payments provider to its WU GlobalPay for Students.

Western Union could bring WeChat Pay into the fold thanks to an alliance with Geoswift, which itself is a payments solutions provider operating in China. With the combined system in place, Chinese students will have access to a wider range of payment options—including not only WeChat Pay, but also Alipay, UnionPay, and even TenPay—that should make it a little easier to get cash where it needs to be.

Mobile payments, and digital payments, are a steadily-growing part of everyday life in China. Just WeChat alone has seen mobile payments traffic go from $11.6 billion US in 2012 to around $1.2 trillion in 2016. The first quarter of 2017, meanwhile, featured WeChat Pay as responsible for four out of 10 mobile transactions in all of China, which goes a long way toward explaining why Alipay was focused so hard on international expansion.

As for the why behind it all, Geoswift’s CEO and founder Raymond Qu explains it well, saying “China accounts for about a quarter of international students in the world. The country is instrumental in shaping the trends for international student payments. This poses a huge opportunity for academic institutions across the world to attract Chinese students by providing appropriate payment opportunities….”

It makes perfect sense that mobile payments should be a part of the Chinese student experience. It solves one of the biggest problems for international students—cross-border cash transfer—and uses a likely familiar tool to do it. It even capitalizes on its own reputation—Alipay for big bucks, WeChat Pay for pennies—to actually fit into university student culture, where living on pennies is a sought-after skill.

The new move between WeChat and Western Union should prove welcome here, and give WeChat Pay another leg up to survive Alipay’s high-dollar international onslaught.