The fintech dLocal that specializes in cross-border payments for emerging markets, has integrated AliPay, UnionPay and WeChat Pay – China’s three major digital payments providers – into its platform. The addition for Uruguay-based dLocal with a US presence is touted as enabling global merchants to reach some “300 million Chinese consumers.”
Collectively these three providers captured the vast bulk of the Chinese market for online payments (over 70%), which translated into $2.9 trillion (trn) of such payments in 2016.
According to the market research firm Analysys, for the first quarter of 2017 Alipay, which was founded by Alibaba Group in 2004 and its founder Jack Ma, accounted for around 54% share of mobile transaction value while WeChat Pay garnered a 40% share.
For the Uruguayan-based dLocal, which has largely been focused on the Latin American region and other emerging markets, it expands the company’s services to Asia. It is couched as enabling the firm to “offer a broader portfolio of payments and country coverage to global merchants” who want to reach some 2 billion (bn) emerging consumers in markets where payment methods are different of those in Europe and the US.
Chinese Cross-Border E-Commerce
Cross-border ecommerce in China reached an estimated RMB 259bn (c.$40bn) in 2015, equivalent to over 6% of China’s total consumer e-commerce. And, the growth rate has been put at more than 50% annually according industry figures and as highlighted recently by Chenan Xia, a principal at McKinsey in Hong Kong.
Lower prices, higher quality items, larger disposable incomes and the search for non-fake goods are among a factors contributing to the rise in online cross-border purchases, creating a huge opportunity for ecommerce and marketplace businesses.
China’s major e-commerce site, Alibaba’s Tmall, for example, has moved into the market with a cross-border site (Tmall Global), whilst smaller consumer rivals and start-ups have got in on the act.
US e-commerce behemoth Amazon has also become increasingly active in China, having opened its offshore shopping sites of late to Chinese consumers and offering users of Amazon.cn, its Chinese site, a selection foreign products described in the local language and with Chinese specifications.
On the flip side, Tmall Global has attracted major foreign retailers like US-based Costco and South Korea’s Lotte Mart, to its cross-border site.
“China is the global Mecca for ecommerce and we are unlocking the doors for cross-border purchases in this market by bringing all the pertinent payment options into one solution,” said Sebastián Kanovich, CEO of dLocal, who is described as a pioneer in emerging markets payments.
Chinese Payment Providers
As regards the background and timeline of discussions between dLocal and AliPay, WeChat Pay and UnionPay, last year dLocal had implemented bank transfers for China, However, as Kanovich pointed out “the conversion was quite low” as these are not the dominant forms of payment for ecommerce purchases in China.
The first item in dLocal’s 2017 Product Roadmap was to secure the top three payment methods – AliPay, WeChat Pay and UnionPay – so that they could start processing local debit and credit cards, as well as accept payments through the hugely popular e-wallets.
“From start to go-live – contract and integration – it has taken six months. For credit and debit card acceptance, the integration was pretty straight forward as it was completely API-based,” revealed Kanovich.
He added: “To process payments through the AliPay and WeChat Pay e-wallets, we had to develop QR-code technology, which is how AliPay and WeChat Pay operate. This was a new capability we had to develop, because none of the payment option providers in the markets we’re in are utilizing QR codes.”
The user experience for a payment via QR code works as follows. During the checkout process, when the user indicated that they want to pay with AliPay or WeChat Pay e-wallets, dLocal generates and displays a unique QR code to the shopper which they scans to be redirected to pay with AliPay or WeChat Pay.