In a deal that could make Tencent-owned social media platform WeChat into a serious payments player, WeChat announced Tuesday (Nov. 17) a deal with Western Union that allows WeChat’s U.S. users to send money cross-border to 200 countries and territories, all while riding Western Union’s rails.
With conflicting laws, industry regulations and security concerns, simplified global money transfers has been a top PF priority.
“Consumers are able to fund the money transfer utilizing a debit card, credit card or bank account and easily direct the funds to a Western Union retail agent location around the world, and to a mobile wallet or bank account where available,” said a joint statement from WeChat and Western Union. “WeChat together with its sister product Weixin in China had over 650 million of monthly active user accounts at end of September 2015.”
One of the more attractive potentials of this deal is the ability to offer in-context payments. Instead of consumers seeing this money-transfer capability as a disjointed banking app, WeChat’s social communications could allow far more natural-feeling transactions.
Consider: A parent could be texting with a college student offspring and has just agreed to buy the student a new computer. The money transfer could then happen within that conversation. Or a text exchange about meeting for lunch could include all participants transferring money to the one friend who will pay the check.
By removing the global barriers that so often thwart simple money transfers, this partnership could have substantive ramifications, especially if other social sites opt to mimic the methodology and protocols used.
Just like MasterCard is arguing with this week’s mobile loyalty standardization effort, global money transfers via social may be a situation where standardization is a lot better than differentiation.