Latipay's Alibaba, WeChat tie-up targets Chinese consumers who don't use credit cards
By Sophie Boot
May 16 (BusinessDesk) - Latipay says New Zealand exporters stand to benefit from a trial that integrates its payment platform for Chinese consumers with Chinese e-wallet platforms Alibaba and WeChat.
Auckland-based Latipay's agreements with the two Chinese sites will allow Chinese customers to pay for New Zealand products in yuan while New Zealand sellers are paid in kiwi dollars. The company will begin beta-testing a button today which allows customers to click to pay in yuan via their chosen mobile payment platform or Chinese bank rather than using a credit card.
It's a vital step to facilitate more sales between Chinese consumers and local businesses, chief executive Leigh Flounders says, as only a quarter of China's population has a credit card and cards are used for just 12 percent of online purchases in China. Instead, mobile payment platforms such as Alibaba's AliPay, and WeChat's Tencent, are used for 40 percent of China's online transactions.
"It's critical for New Zealand businesses to understand there is no point offering a credit card facility to pay for your goods and services for Chinese consumers who want to interact with you but aren't carrying that credit card," Flounders said. "You explain this to exporters or education providers in New Zealand and they get it immediately, because there is so much dissatisfaction at a merchant level, it's so frustrating for them. It's solving a problem and opening up a market which is just dying to interact. For New Zealand merchants, it's about ensuring those Chinese payers can pay in their currency of choice, but also their payment platform of choice."
The platform is targeted at exporters, tourism and education businesses, due to Chinese compliance rules. It has just surpassed 800 registered and verified users, with merchants from those at the top end of the small-to-medium enterprise space to sole traders, Flounders said.
For education providers, the business can facilitate fee payments for foreign students, and has been doing that for a provider in Canterbury.
"When those students are looking to pay their fees currently the process is extremely difficult and it can be quite costly as well if you're looking at unapproved channels like remittance or foreign exchange," Flounders said. "Our platform allows that institution to invoice those students, and those students then pay through our platform in yuan and the institution is receiving those funds in trust in New Zealand dollars. Both parties can open up the platform and see those funds transacting."
Latipay guarantees transactions made over the platform so merchants can ship goods before the payment, which will take between two and three business days to clear, which Flounders said is vital in e-commerce as it means the customer can get the product as soon as possible.
The ability to pay in yuan, while the merchant is paid in New Zealand dollars, will be useful for consumers living in China but also Chinese consumers in New Zealand. That's because those consumers are likely to have an e-wallet or a Chinese bank account with one of the major traditional banks which Latipay is partnering with, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the China Construction Bank Corporation, Flounders said.
Alana Riley, who runs Nelson-based Oxygen Skincare which sells 40 percent of its products to China, has been using Latipay for about a month after a Chinese client suggested it. She said customers in China have had to go to the bank to pay for her products, and the ability to be paid in New Zealand dollars is hugely useful for her business.