A fortnight ago, Tencent’s mega app WeChat ran a test trial that allowed passengers of two air flights between Shanghai and Chengdu to make offline payments while flying.
Passengers could sign up for the beta testing version of the new service, called ‘WeChat on the Machine’, before boarding and successful participants were given the ability to use the WeChat mobile app to purchase food and beverages, souvenirs, blankets, duty free goods and in-flight services while on the plane. Bills were stored on the app until the airplane landed, and when devices were connected back to the Internet, payments were automatically made.
The new payment feature is currently restricted to only Spring airlines in China but the tech giant is planning to expand it to other airline services and even use it in other ground level uses or situations soon. The functionality will initially be restricted to only WeChat users with scores above 550 in its commercial social credit program. Tencent’s WeChat operate their own credit initiatives.
WeChat’s new offline payment feature could open up a whole world of possibilities and new opportunities for the tech giant which has been exploring offline services people can use in daily life, according to Allen Zhang Xiaolong, Senior Executive VP at Tencent Holdings Limited at the annual WeChat conference.
This year, the company also tested a new feature enabling merchants to offer special deals and promotions to regular customers called the “Friend Membership” feature which allows businesses to develop and roll out different promotional campaigns with greater convenience, and is part of WeChat’s broader plan to expand its offline payment service, targeting specifically smaller businesses.
WeChat is China’s largest social networking platform with more than one billion active users monthly.Mobile payment is a huge thing in China, about 587 million people used mobile payment in 2018, up 10.8% from the year prior.
Tencent’s Tenpay, which includes WeChat Pay and QQ Wallet, controls about 39.2% of the market, behind Alipay. The two tech giants combined market share is 92.5%. In addition to continuously coming up with new, innovative payment products. Tencent have set their sights on foreign markets including Southeast Asia, Europe and North American.