WeChat is making its mark in New Zealand with more than 400,000 Chinese tourists lapping up the use of the payment technology.
The app - with a built in web search system - is the number one social network of choice for more than 800 million Chinese nationals, a replacement for Google's search engine and with the functionality of Apple Pay.
Likened to Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook all-in-one, the mobile wallet function is actively being used to process more than 500m payment transactions per day in 20 countries.
The alternative payment method is now available in 8 stores nationwide.
Pure NZ Gateway chief executive Mark Christensen said New Zealand's tourism and service sectors are actively embracing the alternative payment method.
"The growth of WeChat in the last three years can only be described as phenomenal and we are honoured to represent WeChat in New Zealand," Christensen said.
"In particular the New Zealand tourism and service sectors are now highly engaged to offer WePay Payments as a trusted and convenient payment method for Chinese visitors"
Users of WeChat can purchase goods and services at certain outlets and tourist spots, similarly to that of an electronic card.
While the app is predominantly being used as a payment method, Christensen said the technology has a number of marketing benefits for merchants and retailers.
"The benefits to the local merchant are significant when compared to traditional payment methods such as lower fees, near field marketing along with social marketing and communications access into a huge pool of customers".
Souvenir retailer Aotea Gifts is the first company to offer the WeChat Wallet option in New Zealand.
"WeChat is the customer payment of choice in China," Aotea Gifts director Donald Hanson said. "It is imperative we provide what customers expect and are used to while they are in New Zealand," Hanson said. "Travelling to a foreign country often creates a number of perceived risks, by incorporating a trusted payment system travellers are used to, it helps alleviate this."
Aotea general manager Julian Bottaro said part of the tourist experience is giving customers payment options they are used to.
The key for our company now is to ensure our merchants and retailers are ready for the 2017 summer influx.
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"China is becoming an extremely important tourism market for New Zealand and as indicated in his recent visits to China. Prime Minister John Key has set some lofty targets for in-bound Chinese tourism," the company said.
"Not only must we be ready in terms of infrastructure but we must provide transactions that are fast, trusted, convenient and secure for our Chinese visitors and students".
Pure NZ Gateway is currently rolling out digital WePay management systems to help Kiwi businesses prepare for the summer tourism boom.
"The key for our company now is to ensure our merchants and retailers are ready for the 2017 summer influx," Christensen said.