Skift Take

Facebook makes no secret that it wants to be the WeChat of the world outside China. Is it any surprise that it's leading the development of a new payment infrastructure and the first product is — drum roll — a digital wallet?

Mark Zuckerberg has shouted out to the world that Facebook wants to be the WeChat of the world outside China. One thing he must have realized early on is that China has the likes of WeChat and Alipay because the country doesn’t have an entrenched credit card payment system like the U.S. does, thereby enabling entrepreneurs to build a digital wallet infrastructure.

By leading the development of a new payment infrastructure using blockchain technology, Facebook is in effect creating a new alternative to the decades-old practice of paying via networks such as Visa and MasterCard. And the first product — no surprise — is a digital wallet available in Messenger and WhatsApp and as a stand-alone app, slated to launch in 2020.

Facebook is recognizing what superapps in Asia had woken up to much earlier. Nearly 70 percent of small businesses in emerging countries lack access to credit, it said, and $25 billion is lost by migrants every year through remittance fees.

Whoever does not have an e-wallet in these markets will lose out big time. Just ask WeChat, Alipay, GrabPay, AirAsia’s BigPay, and dozens of others in Asia that are vying to be the currency of choice for customers. What does this mean for travel? Read below to find out.

— Raini Hamdi, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @RainiHamdi

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Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Photo credit: A consumer scans a QR code using WeChat Wallet. Philip McMaster / Flickr

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