China’s central bank to lift foreigners’ single mobile payment cap to $5,000 as part of opening-up measures
Published: Mar 01, 2024 10:10 PM Updated: Mar 01, 2024 11:42 PM
A view of the PBC building in Beijing Photo: VCG

A view of the PBC building in Beijing Photo: VCG

The People's Bank of China (PBC), the central bank, will guide Chinese pay-ment platforms to raise the single transaction limit for foreign nationals using mobile payment services from $1,000 to $5,000 and the annual transaction limit from $10,000 to $50,000, amid efforts to improve payment convenience, officials told a press conference on Friday.

The move represents China's latest efforts to optimize foreign investment environment and China's determination to implement high-level opening-up, experts said.

Efforts will also be made to help foreign nationals link their overseas bank cards to domestic payment services more easily, simplifying the identity verification process, and bringing greater convenience, Zhang Qingsong, deputy governor of the PBC said.

"The PBC will guide payment institutions to introduce a series of convenience measures to ensure that foreign friends are satisfied and willing to use China's mobile payment products, which have been quite popular among Chinese people," Zhang said.

The call from the PBC has been met with proactive responses from major Chinese mobile payment institutions.

Weixin Pay, one of China's major payment platforms, has been optimizing payment services for foreign nationals since July 2023 by allowing overseas users to link international bank cards to it. It has recently optimized key areas for overseas users, including the registration process, payment activation process, small amount payment limit without authentication, and simplification of the user experience, the Global Times learned from Tencent, which owns Weixin Pay, on Friday.

For example, foreign users can directly add international bank cards to quickly activate the Weixin payment function. By linking an international card, first-time users of Weixin Pay from abroad can try Weixin Pay within a certain amount without verification. 

Weixin Pay's transactions made through international bank cards have maintained steady growth, with the accumulated transaction amount exceeding 1 billion yuan ($138.91 million) and the total number of transactions exceeding 10 million by 2023, according to Tencent.

Ant Group which operates the country's leading payment app Alipay said it has completed some of the cap lifting requirements as of Friday and will complete the remainder in the near future, according to a statement sent by Ant Group to the Global Times on Friday.

Ant Group will continue to improve its services by introducing more features tailored to foreign visitors traveling to China. This includes expanding coverage to more card organizations and overseas electronic wallets, and allowing more international tourists to use electronic wallets from home for scanning and payment in China.

Ant Group's  services for international travelers in China have continued to expand. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the average daily number of transactions made by overseas visitors on Alipay was nearly double that of the third quarter, and the daily transaction peak also reached new highs.

The move to optimize mobile payments for foreign nationals in China reflects the country's commitment to creating a more open and convenient business environment and shows China's commitment to financial opening-up, Wang Peng, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

In a meeting with a US Chamber of Commerce delegation on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that China will open its door even wider to the outside world, continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment, and provide more support and convenience for US companies and foreign firms from other countries to invest and do business in China.

China has stepped up its efforts in opening-up, including implementing mutual visa exemptions with a number of countries and issuing the 24-point guideline to optimize foreign investment.

China's opening-up measures will not only enhance China's position and influence in the global economy, but also provide more opportunities for development and cooperation for countries around the world, Wang said.

China's 24 pro-foreign investment measures have further strengthened the in-vestment confidence of foreign-funded enterprises, He Yadong, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce told a press conference on Thursday.

Overall, more than 60 percent of the measures have been implemented or made positive progress. For the next step, the ministry will continue to promote the implementation of the 24 specific measures, give full play to the role of the roundtable meeting for foreign-funded enterprises, and continue to optimize the business environment, He said