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Chinese Internet giant Tencent this week rolled out WeChat Wallet, an ewallet that lives within the main WeChat mobile messenger app, in South Africa. And it says there’s no need to have a bank account to make use of the service.

This comes just days after Tencent announced that it’s opening up its mobile payments service to overseas transactions for the first time.

To enable topping up and cashing out via the digital wallet, Tencent has partnered with local players in the country including Standard Bank (at its ATMs) and participating retailers including SPAR, SPAR Tops, and Cambridge Food Stores.

Mobile payments have been catching on in South Africa for some time now, and Tencent clearly believes it’s spotted an opportunity to jump in (it already has 200 million users on its payments service). And while Apple Pay and Google Pay aren’t yet available in the country, existing offerings like FlickPay, SnapScan, Zapper, and GeoPay are thriving.

“Like a physical wallet, you can securely store your bank cards and make instant cash payments within WeChat with the new feature,” Tencent said in a release. “With WeChat Wallet, users can electronically send cash to friends and family, just like handing cash to a friend to get you lunch or pay for coffee or a drink at the bar.”

“Information of up to three chip and PIN debit or credit cards, which are verified by Visa and MasterCard security systems, can be saved in the WeChat Wallet. Cards can also be used to Cash In and increase your wallet’s cash balance, pay for services on WeChat such as airtime, electricity, food or pay SnapScan merchants.”

Here are the instructions Tencent offers users to get started:

Simply log into WeChat, tap ‘Me’, then tap ‘Wallet’ and follow the step-by-step instructions. The service is only available to South Africans who are 16 or older with a valid ID number and are using iOS or Android phones.

And here are a series of videos posted to the WeChatSouthAfrica YouTube channel this week as part of the launch campaign:


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