Personal payment reception codes (a barcode used to receive money) on Alipay and WeChat Pay will continue to function after 1 March, as confirmed by China’s two biggest online payment service providers on 22 February. Individuals can choose to stick with the current version or upgrade to the free “personal business payment reception code”, which provides additional transaction reconciliation service on top of normal money transfers.
This offer is a great relief to many independent business owners such as street vendors, who have been left in the dark, worrying that their businesses would be paralysed due to potential impacts on their payment collection following the notice by People’s Bank of China last November.
In the notice, the authority set out that individual digital payment accounts with “obvious characteristics of business operations” (active transaction records, for instance) shall apply to payment and clearing institutions to change into special merchant accounts. The new regulation was introduced in a bid to strengthen the administration terminals and related business, which is set to come into effect from 1 March.
Alipay and WeChat Pay did not provide any clarification in response to the new rule, leaving public speculation on the termination of personal payment barcodes on the two platforms being widely circulated online. But now, the cloud has been lifted with the option of a voluntary opt-in, and independent merchants, including those who have not obtained business registration, can continue their business as usual.
It is understood that the “personal business payment reception code” is designated for small and micro businesses with additional support such as finance and risk management, as well as tailored marketing. The original code will not be replaced or affected by the upgrade and the application continues to be mainly based online.