In today’s WeChat Essential Tip we will cover a very fundamental process: linking your bank card. For most WeChat users, once they have linked their bank card, WeChat will become a different app. China Channel really recommends those residing in China to link a card. Once you are comfortable using it, it will really make your life much easier in many ways. We’ll cover:
- What’s Possible With WeChat Wallet?
- Is it safe?
- Which Banks To Use?
- The Process
What’s possible with WeChat wallet?
Other Western apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger might superficially seem similar to WeChat. But once you have your card linked and (like most of China) become comfortable using WeChat for mobile commerce, you will quickly realize that WeChat is much more than ‘the Chinese What’sApp’. The list of things possible is truly impressive and growing month on month:
- QR Code Payments
- Transfers to friends
- Mobile Top Up
- Purchasing Investment and Financial Products
- Ordering Taxis
- Payment of Utility Bills
- Purchasing Movie Tickets
- Transfer to Banks
- Purchasing Air and Train Tickets
- Groupon Style Discount Deals
- Charity Donations
And that doesn’t even include the city services which can let you do things like pay a traffic fine or book a doctor’s appointment.
Is it safe?
In order to make a transaction you will need to input a 6 digit security code. Basically the same level of protection as a normal Chinese debit card. The linked card will likely have a daily withdrawal limit and a single transaction limit also, which will vary based on the card see example below:
Which Banks To Use?
For foreigners to link their Chinese banks cards to WeChat can sometimes be a very frustrating process as the system as the IT systems and processes are just not geared towards processing Western style names and passport numbers due to the following:
- Chinese people have short names of around 2-3 characters usually
- They do not have middle names
- Chinese does not use lower/upper-case letters
- Chinese people’s surname comes first with given name second
- There are no spaces between family and given names in Chinese
- Everyone has an ID number which is in a standard format and length
You must enter your name exactly how your bank has entered it into into their system. Which means you may need to try different versions of your name, including all uppercase, all lowercase and with or without spaces. We recommend that you simply visit your bank and ask them to give you a print out with your information. Take your passport when you go to request this info. If you’re lucky you might even be able to find someone to help guide you through the entire process.
Not all banks support using a passport as a form of ID when linking to WeChat Wallet, in which case as a foreigner you simply can’t link that card. Some of those that currently do are:
- China Construction Bank – CCB
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China – ICBC
- China Merchants Bank – CMB
- Agricultural Bank of China – ABC
- Bank of Communications – BoCom
- Bank of China – BoC
- Industrial Bank (Xingye) – CIB
- Huaxia Bank
- China Everbright Bank (Guangda)
- Ping An Bank
- Hang Seng Bank
Below is an example of a card that only supports Chinese ID numbers. It has no option to switch the the ID type to passport and there forth can’t be used by non Chinese to link to WeChat wallet.
Now select ‘Bank Card’
This will bring up a screen like this, as you can see we already have 1 bank card linked to this account which is a China Construction Bank Debit Card. You can link several cards to a single account if you wish.
Fill in the card details. There is an option to scan the card by tapping the blue camera icon.
Doing so is pretty convenient and will generate the number for you
Fill in the ‘Name’, change ID type to ‘Passport’ add your passport number and phone
You will have to verify your phone number. WeChat will send a text message with a code to confirm that the phone is in fact yours
You will have to set your security password for the account. We recommend that you do not make this easy to guess or the same as your WeChat password!
Now you’re set! Welcome to a world of Chinese mobile e-commerce. Try not to spend all your money too quickly 🙂
Join us tomorrow for our next article in the WeChat Essential Tips series where we will be giving away more free info on WeChat. Follow us on WeChat by scanning the QR code to follow our official account.
This article is based mostly on WeChat Android Version 6.2.4