Guide to electronic business payment service providers in China and overseas

Kirstie Lau7 min
Business tipsGuides
Guide to electronic business payment service providers in China and overseas
In this article

Cashless societies are taking over. The development and accessibility of electronic payment solutions have made international payment a part of everyday life. According to the 2023 Global Payments Report published by FIS, Hong Kong stood out with only 10% of the market spending in cash in 2022, marking one of the lowest in the Asia Pacific region. The use of electronic payment is projected to surge to 37% by 2026, poised to supplant credit cards as the most used electronic payment method in Hong Kong.

For cross-border businesses, the use of international payment solutions has become a prerequisite for success. Read on to fill the knowledge gap of cross-border payment solutions, and make the best choice for your global business.

Cross-border electronic payment options 

1. AliPay

Alipay is one of the most popular electronic payment solutions and cross-border payment tools for online shopping. When users make cross-border payments with AliPay HK, the platform auto-converts RMB to HKD with no foreign exchange fees or service charges.

Cross-border payment: Businesses can accept cross-border payments from more than 50 countries with a QR code, both online and offline.

Cross-border transfer: AliPay supports international transfers in mainland China and the Philippines, making it easier for businesses to make payments to overseas suppliers. Verified users can transfer easily with a maximum amount depending on the receiving country.

Transaction fees: As low as 0% for offline transactions. Online transaction fees vary based on the services needed.

*Based on sources dated before 12 September 2023. Please refer to the official website of AliPay for details.

2. WeChat Pay

WeChat Pay is commonly used for daily expenses such as grocery shopping. WeChat Pay HK users can make cross-border payments by linking WeChat Pay with their Hong Kong bank accounts or credit cards. All transactions will be converted from RMB to HKD for free.

Cross-border payment: WeChat Pay supports more than 60 countries and regions outside of mainland China.

Cross-border transfer: WeChat Pay users can make cross-border transfers to mainland China, the Philippines, and Indonesia, with a daily transfer limit for verified users. 

Transaction fees: The payment giant has recently announced that users can now link the app with bank cards such as Visa and Mastercard. In general, transactions above a certain amount incur a service charge.

*Based on sources dated before 12 September 2023. Please refer to the official website of WeChat Pay for details.

3. Digital wallets

Digital wallets that support cross-border payments include:

UnionPay: The unified mobile payment application developed by the Chinese banking industry that supports cross-border QR code payments in Hong Kong and mainland China.

BoC Pay: A cross-border digital wallet developed by the Bank of China (Hong Kong) that facilitates cross-border payments, P2P personal transfers, real-time interbank transfers, and cross-border transfers. It also supports 7 Chinese banks. 

Octopus: Verified users can simply activate the Octopus UnionPay card to make purchases in mainland China, without a Chinese mobile number or bank account. The card is ready to use upon activation, perfect for users traveling to the mainland on short notice

*Based on sources dated before 12 September 2023. Please refer to the official website of the digital wallets for details.

Limitations of cross-border payment

In mainland China

Verification and spending limits: Major electronic payment solutions impose a daily spending cap of HK$20,000 and require verification in advance, making it difficult for users to make larger transactions.

Complicated reconciliation: Due to the spending limits, businesses cannot centralize all digital transactions or make B2B payments directly to suppliers using one single platform. Funds end up passing through multiple banks and financial institutions, making monthly reconciliation a headache.

Overseas

Currency conversion eats up profits: Cross-border payments using overseas banks often involve triple conversion: your customers pay in their local currency, your overseas bank converts to their major currency, and again to your suppliers' preferred currency. The exchange fees and overseas transaction fees involved are paramount and will quickly erode your profits.

Lengthy verification and lower spending limits: Only a few cross-border electronic payment platforms support overseas banks, leading to stricter and more time-consuming verification processes and lower transaction limits. This will be an inevitable hurdle for cross-border business owners. 

A new generation of B2B cross-border electronic payment system – Airwallex 

What’s so special about Airwallex?

Third-party payment tool: Airwallex partners with a global network of leading banks and financial institutions to offer cross-border payment and transfer services and connect businesses with banks. Airwallex also expedites international transfers and minimizes fraud risks thanks to its cutting-edge technology.

Zero transaction fees: Airwallex does not charge cross-border service fees or monthly fees, but an FX conversion fee as low as 0.2% above interbank exchange rates. No hidden charges.

Support multiple currencies in China and overseas

Cross-border businesses can transfer funds to 150+ destinations in 40+ currencies.with Airwallex, including major currencies such as USD, GBP, RMB, EUR, and JPY, to minimize unnecessary forced currency exchanges. .

What kind of cross-border business should use Airwallex?

Airwallex is suitable for any business aiming to expand globally, be it domestic and international merchants, cross-border trading businesses, and cross-border eCommerce. 

On the contrary to traditional banks, Airwallex does not restrict your business’ location of operation. Companies can receive payments from multiple countries worldwide with an Airwallex Global Business Account, effortlessly facilitating market expansion.

Guide to cross-border payment using Airwallex

To unlock international business growth, you need to start with an Airwallex Global Business Account:

  1. Sign up for an account for free

  2. Submit the necessary documents and complete the KYC process to activate your account

  3. Choose your services:

    1. To provide cross-border payment options to customers worldwide, you can choose to use Payment Link or Online Payment. Install Airwallex plug-ins to seamlessly integrate Airwallex payment solutions with your cross-border business platform. 

    2. To make cross-border transfers, choose “Transfer” in the menu and follow the instructions

  4. Browse other services to enhance overall financial efficiency, including Expense Management and Virtual Cards.

What are the advantages of using Airwallex cross-border payment solution? 

High level of security

The infrastructure and security protocols of Airwallex meet the highest international security standards of PCI DSS Level 1 Standard, ensuring the safety of transaction data and customer privacy. All accounts are protected by two-factor authentication for an added layer of security.  

Ease of paying cross-border suppliers and vendors

No matter your location, logging into your Airwallex account allows you to manage local and international transfers immediately, breaking geographical borders of supplier and vendor payment.

International digital payment methods

Offer more than 30 local payment methods to your customers through Airwallex, including credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay, and more.

Compliance

Airwallex is regulated by the Customs & Excise Department, and holds a Money Service Operators license (MSO License No. 16-09-01929). Airwallex has also obtained multiple licenses and permits globally, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore. 

Open a global multi-currency account for free in Hong Kong

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Kirstie Lau
Senior Associate, Growth Marketing

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