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AUB to aggressively sign up WeChat Pay merchants during Boracay closure

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Asia United Bank Corp. (AUB)
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THE impending closure of Boracay is viewed as an opportunity for WeChat Pay to sign up merchants eager to recoup lost revenue when the resort island reopens, in order to better serve Chinese visitors, an executive with WeChat Pay’s local partner said.

In an interview, Asia United Bank (AUB) vice president and credit cards business head Maria Magdalena V. Surtida said that the partnership between AUB and China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. to offer WeChat Pay in the Philippines will help support merchants serving Chinese tourists.

“There are thousands of merchants on Boracay and our penetration is under one-fourth,” Ms. Surtida told BusinessWorld on Wednesday.

Late Wednesday, Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a text message that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the shutdown of Boracay in Malay, Aklan for six months starting April 26, to make way for an environmental cleanup.

“[Once Boracay reopens], the merchants actually need to be ready to make up for lost revenue, so I think it will be the best time to [offer our service],” Ms. Surtida said.

About 300 merchants on the island allow Chinese tourists to transact using WeChat Pay.

According to the municipality of Malay, 375,284 Chinese tourists visited Boracay last year, surpassing South Koreans as the most numerous foreign visitors to the island.

Late last year, AUB signed a licensing agreement with Tencent to accredit Philippine merchants to accept payments using WeChat Pay’s QR code-based technology.

AUB said it will also seek to sign up more merchants in Metro Manila and in other tourist destinations.

“If Boracay closes down, we still have a lot of places to go to,” Ms. Surtida said.

“Of the WeChat transactions [in the Philippines], 50% are happening in Manila and 50% in the provinces, and we have not penetrated Tagaytay, Subic, Batangas and Laguna. Because 60% of the Chinese tourists are in Manila and if they want to have experience, they go to [those places], and we still have a lot to do there.” — Karl Angelo N. Vidal