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You can now send money through WeChat Pay using only a phone number

See your money fly faster than ever before

Photograph: Yu Zhiming
WeChat is playing catch-up with Alipay. Earlier this month, WeChat's social credit system started integrating with ride-hailing apps. More recently, Technode reported that WeChat has finally added a feature that Alipay has long since had: the ability to send money using just a recipient's phone number.

The new feature from WeChat will allow users to skip the need to approve transfers, with the funds entering the recipient's WeChat wallet immediately after the transaction. Because of this, users no longer need to add a recipient as a friend to do the transfer. While it may be a convenience, netizens voiced concerns about its security, such as issues from accidentally entering the wrong phone number.

To send money using the new method, head to the 'Money' screen under WeChat Pay. It can be found at the bottom of the list of options below your QR code for money payments. Users must also go to the Mobile Number Transfer Settings page and enable the service first before being able to receive money through their phone numbers.

Alipay has had this feature since 2012. It allows sending money via Alipay with just the recipient's email as well, so WeChat still has a way to go. But with this new addition to WeChat Pay, perhaps we can now do a spring cleaning of our friend list of people who we never chat with but just send money to.

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