Chinese consumers are on the rise. And it’s just the beginning. Spending power and business opportunities are growing like nowhere else. But the world’s biggest e-commerce market is unique in many ways. It can be one of the most challenging to enter and operate in. Even “global experts” can struggle to make sense of it.

Ingenico ePayments has partnered with some of the world’s biggest online businesses to grow successfully into new markets. China is no exception. Through our large local team in China, we have developed an in-depth understanding of the local e-commerce and payments landscape. Now, with a full suite of online payment solutions tailored to the preferences of Chinese consumers, we are better placed than ever to support e-commerce players successfully in this dynamic market.

In this report, we will share some of our knowledge of the local Chinese landscape, and introduce you to the payment solutions that can help you succeed in a market that is increasingly impossible to ignore.

  • Connected... and consuming

    China has an internet penetration rate of 57%. In major cities, that number rises to 70–80%. With more than 800 million people connected, this one country is home to over a quarter of all internet users on the planet. But by the time you read this, these numbers will already be out of date: China’s connected population is growing by 41 million every year.

  • Mobile first

    China goes beyond simply “mobile first”. With a breathtaking 98% of users accessing the internet on smartphones and tablets, they are almost exclusively mobile. Mobile optimization is absolutely critical to providing the best possible consumer experience. At Ingenico ePayments, our front-end is optimized for mobile devices. Our checkout flows and hosted pages are designed to let the mobile experience shine.

  • Digital First

    China is unquestionably a leader in e-commerce thanks to their digital-first approach. As a relative latecomer to the market, they have been able to leapfrog traditional bricks-and-mortar and bypass the limitations of legacy systems in banking and payments. A strong technology sector and burgeoning economy have led to advanced mobile payments that offer a seamless experience both online and in-store. The country that first introduced the world to banknotes is now setting the pace in going cashless.

  • Tech Titans

    The rapid growth of China’s own Big Tech trio: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — known collectively by the acronym BAT – has helped create a unique local digital ecosystem. This means that many international websites may perform poorly, if care is not taken to localize appropriately or optimize for Chinese search engines and social media.

  • Technological leaps

    In the race to develop new technologies, China is responsible for one-sixth of global spending. With 6.2 million R&D workers and more scientific publications than any other country, it ranks second in international patent applications. Important breakthroughs include many that are relevant to e-commerce, including facial recognition, robotics, and mobile payments


    International business websites struggle to get noticed in China. According to recent research, most have poor or no localization and almost 90% are not optimized for Chinese search engines.

Search Engines
Global Channels
  • BING
Chinese Equivalent
  • 360
Instant Messagings
Global Channels

Chinese Equivalent
  • QQ.COM
Social Networks
Global Channels

Chinese Equivalent
  • Q-ZONE
  • SINA
Video Streaming
Global Channels
Chinese Equivalent
Global Channels
  • EBAY
Chinese Equivalent
  • JD.COM

Online Payments
Global Channels
Chinese Equivalent
Knowledge Sharing
Global Channels
Chinese Equivalent
  • 360
Local Reviews
Global Channels
  • YELP

Chinese Equivalent


Where other markets tend to show a preference for one payment method, consumers in China clearly appreciate options. They have access to a variety of methods.

The choice of payment method for a particular transaction can be influenced by promotions, such as discount vouchers or special deals. Also, eWallet providers Alipay and WeChat Pay are signing some e-commerce merchants to exclusive deals to attract consumers.

UnionPay has wide reach in the Chinese market, but is behind Alipay and WeChat Pay when it comes to consumer preference. However, UnionPay has an important role as they aggregate multiple payment methods, such as card payments and online/mobile banking

China’s most popular messaging app is also a services and social media hub for consumers. The WeChat platform provides a fully integrated experience, including gaming, shopping, and payments.

WeChat Pay works like a wallet on mobile phones, making payments easy and transparent for consumers. It is also used for offline point-of-sale payments, such as taxis, stores, and even street vendors.

Versatile coverage has allowed WeChat Pay to become engrained in the daily lives of one billion Chinese consumers. Ingenico ePayments offers a solution that gives overseas merchants direct access.

Mini programs

For e-commerce merchants, WeChat offers a unique marketing opportunity that can generate brand awareness, boost conversion rates, and improve customer satisfaction.

“Mini programs” in WeChat are basically applications within the application. They are web apps accessed through the browser in WeChat. Mini programs allow merchants and brands to interact with fans and transform how they market to retail. Functionality is seamlessly integrated, including e-commerce, task management and coupons.

Local businesses in China use WeChat mini programs alongside their native app or own website. Usage stats show that many consumers prefer to engage with merchants through WeChat mini programs, particularly in smaller regional cities.

Ingenico & WeChat Pay

WeChat has different ways of initiating a payment request, depending on the device and application the consumer is using. Ingenico’s ePayments platform supports all of the following.

PC browser (QR code)

In a PC browser, the consumer scans a QR code on your website or hosted payment page using the WeChat app on their mobile device.

  • 1. QR code appears on your webpage

  • 2. Scan with WeChat app

  • 3. Confirm payment

Mobile browser (URL intent)

In a mobile browser, a button is displayed that opens the WeChat app and shows the payment.

  • 1. Finish shopping

  • 2. Select WeChat Pay

  • 3. Redirected to WeChat app for confirmation

In app

In your native Android or iOS app, the native WeChat Android or iOS SDK is invoked so there is no need to open the WeChat app.

  • 1. Finish shopping

  • 2. Select WeChat Pay

  • 3. Automatic redirection to confirm payment from Merchant app to WeChat and back again

Official Accounts

An Official Account is the WeChat equivalent of your company’s Facebook page or verified Twitter account. It is the easiest way to reach consumers in China, allowing you to push messages out and redirect consumers to your website via WeChat’s in-app browser.

  • 1. Merchant identified as Official Account, select WeChat Pay

  • 2. Confirm payment

WeChat mini program

The mini program flow allows you to accept transactions and collect them together with the flow of your other payment methods. As a merchant, it means you benefit from our comprehensive reporting and reconciliation processes with all your payments in one place — even from WeChat mini programs.

  • 1. Finish shopping and select WeChat Pay

  • 2. Confirm payment

Key features

  • Multiple payment flows
  • No local entity required
  • No chargeback risk
  • Authorization currency: CNY

Alibaba is the largest e-commerce ecosystem in China. Alipay is their own version of an eWallet, which is in close competition with WeChat Pay as the most prominent payment methods for Chinese consumers.

A Chinese consumer can open an online account and link it to local payment methods, such as their bank account. Alipay integration offers you the opportunity to reach the majority of Chinese online consumers and allow them to pay in real-time on desktop or mobile.

Ingenico & Alipay

Alipay is integrated into Ingenico’s ePayments platform. Our interface recognizes the device being used and offers a desktop or mobile version. On mobile devices, the Alipay app opens automatically, if it is installed.

Desktop Browser

  • 1. Finish shopping and select Alipay

  • 2. Log into Alipay

  • 3. Confirm payment

Desktop to Mobile app

  • 1. Finish shopping and select Alipay

  • 2. QR code appears

  • 3. Scan QR code with Alipay app

  • 4. Confirm payment

Mobile Browser to App

  • 1. Finish shopping

  • 2. Select Alipay

  • 3. Confirm payment in Alipay app

Key features

  • Price in CNY, report in EUR
  • No local entity required
  • No chargebacks
  • Multiple partial refunds
  • Reporting and reconciliation
  • Data analysis tools (Elevate)
  • Authorization currencies: CNY, AUD, CAD, EUR, HKD, GBP, SGD, USD

With 7 billion debit and credit cards issued, UnionPay is the largest card payment organization in the world. Created in 2002 as an attempt to unify China’s credit card and interbank networks, UnionPay is now present in 170 countries. Although usage of Alipay and WeChat Pay is higher amongst Chinese consumers, UnionPay is an important channel to cover all preferred payment methods.

Some UnionPay credit cards are also affiliated with American Express, MasterCard or Visa. These can also be used abroad. UnionPay debit cards can only be used in the UnionPay network and other networks that have signed contracts with UnionPay.

Ingenico & UnionPay

Through a local partnership agreement, Ingenico offers China UnionPay as part of its merchant offering in China. This is the preferred payment method of choice for domestic payments through UnionPay. It also enables international merchants to more effectively reach local consumers, as it mirrors the experience a Chinese consumer would have purchasing from a domestic merchant. We also enable merchants to accept Chinese international cards issued by UnionPay. Ingenico’s ePayments platform supports two types of integration:

Secure Pay offers authentication of the consumer on the UPoP Platform. The consumer is redirected and can select multiple payment methods, including online banking, mobile banking, and bank cards issued by UnionPay. There is no chargeback risk on this interface.

Express Pay requires no redirect and supports recurring transactions. This interface does have a chargeback risk. This method has a higher conversion rate due to lack of redirect.

China UnionPay

  • 1. Select bank on merchant app

  • 2. Redirects to local bank for authorization

  • 3. Payment complete

Secure Pay

  • 1. Finish shopping and select UnionPay

  • 2. Consumer is redirected and provides card details

Express Pay

  • 1. Finish shopping, select UnionPay, provide card details

Key features

  • Real-time authorization
  • Secure payments
  • Fast settlement cycle
  • International acceptance
  • Recurring payments
  • No local entity required
  • Authorization currencies:
    CNY + 140 other currencies

Processing tuition payments for Chinese students studying abroad has its own unique challenges. So we’ve teamed up with GeoSwift — an expert in cross-border payments with China — to offer a specialized service for educational institutions.

Our partnership allows us to collect funds in China in CNY, handle all the required reporting and paperwork, and repatriate them for you. It means you receive payment in your local currency on your local bank account at a competitive exchange rate.

Key features

  • Remittance and reconciliation
  • Repatriation of funds
  • Reporting to Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE)



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