EXCLUSIVE – BNP Paribas opened Chinese mobile payment service WeChat Pay to its retail partners in Europe today.
The payment solution will first debut at two flagships stores owned by retail conglomerate Galeries Lafayette Group in Paris. The plan is to gradually add WeChat Pay to all its other retail partners across Europe.
The idea behind the launch is to enable the bank’s retail partners to cater to the 7.4 million Chinese tourist visiting Europe annually. This was a strategy first made clear when the French bank partnered with WeChat rival Alipay last year. Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay has some 450 million users in China.
Today, with its partnership with WeChat, BNP Paribas gains a stronger foothold in the Chinese tourist market.
BNP’s Wednesday announcement read:
With WeChat Pay, BNP Paribas is pursuing its policy of innovating to enable retail chains to offer their international clientele a more streamlined shopping experience. Used today by over 600 million Chinese consumers, the WeChat Pay mobile payment solution constitutes an additional powerful tool for retailers wishing to attract – and win the loyalty of – Chinese consumers travelling abroad.
Launched in 2011 by Tencent, WeChat is a social media mobile application in China that offers payment capabilities. Alongside Alipay, its WeChat Pay feature is one of the major payment services in the country, with over 600 million active users, about three times the size of PayPal’s userbase. WeChat Pay first surfaced in Europe this summer.
The partnership with WeChat is also indicative of BNP Paribas’s larger goal to become a major banking player in the Asian market, a goal that the bank has been vocal about.
Paris-based BNP Paribas is one of Europe’s largest banks with locations in 74 countries across the world and has over $640 billion in assets under management.