Retailers at Mall of the Emirates will accept purchases via WeChat Pay in a bid to attract more shoppers from China to spend at the Dubai shopping and leisure centre.
WeChat Pay is a mobile payment feature within the WeChat messaging app developed by Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate.
Ease of visa restrictions and the ambitions of China’s growing middle class to travel and spend has fuelled a surge in Chinese tourists to the UAE. Overnight visitors from China to Dubai have more than doubled since 2014, and Chinese spending on credit and debit cards in the Emirates grew by more than 50 per cent last year, according to Mashreq Bank.
WeChat is the most popular social networking app in China, with roughly 83 per cent of all smartphones using it on a regular basis for social networking as well as to make purchases. Estimates suggest nine out of 10 Chinese consumers choose mobile payments over cash, with WeChat Pay as the preferred choice.
“In this age of connectivity, we are continually diversifying our services to make it convenient for our shoppers to access all that we have on offer at the click of a button. To own a verified WeChat official account allows us to be closer to our valued Chinese consumers who use this social network to get all information,” said Fuad Sharaf, managing director, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Shopping Malls, UAE, Bahrain and Oman.
MAF said it will collaborate with Chinese multinational holding company Tencent to simplify digital payment solutions through WeChat Pay.
"Having this e-wallet feature at the mall is a significant step in enhancing our Chinese visitors’ experience and create great moments whenever they visit. They can also take advantage of customised services and a wide range of choice, from the best hotels to family leisure options all in one place,” said Mr Sharaf,
The initiative comes around the traditionally auspicious time of Chinese New Year, during which there is typically an influx of tourists from the country with an appetite to spend on retail and experiences.
The mall also said a “Red Packet” rewards programme will be unveiled for users of WeChat Pay, which is based on the Chinese tradition of hongbao, or the giving of monetary gifts to loved ones.