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U. of British Columbia enables student purchases with Chinese currency

The University of British Columbia and payment gateway provider SnapPay, Inc., have together launched a payment acceptance program for both Alipay and WeChat. The program will enable Chinese international students to use both popular Chinese payment apps at UBC’s campus bookstore in Vancouver.

UBC enrolls more than 4,000 Chinese international students each year. Accepting the popular Chinese mobile apps will enable the campus bookstore to accept payments in Chinese currency (RMB), while making it more convenient for students to buy books, supplies and other items in a format and currency they’re familiar with.

Students can also save money by receiving preferred foreign exchange rates. By paying with digital payment apps, like Alipay and WeChat, students could bypass the $50,000 annual exemption limit that Chinese citizens are subject to.

Alipay is a third-party mobile and online payment platform first established in Hangzhou, China in 2004. The service is used via smartphones on the Alipay Wallet app and can support a full range of transactions including credit card payment, bank account management, P2P transfer, prepaid mobile phone top-up, transit ticket purchase, food orders, ride hailing, and more.

Similarly, WeChat is the chief competitor to Alipay and is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment app that has amassed an estimated 1 billion monthly active users.

The entity making the initiative at UBC possible is SnapPay, a payment gateway that allows North American merchants to accept digital payments from Alipay and WeChat.

SnapPay enables a lower cost payment option for merchants compared to traditional credit card transactions, and offers a preferred customer experience for Chinese consumers by enabling the option to pay via familiar mobile apps using Chinese currency.

“UBC Bookstore understands the challenges oversea Chinese students are faced with when it comes to securing funds to pay for the costs associated with studying abroad,” says Chris Renton, Chief Growth Officer at SnapPay. “By helping the UBC Bookstore with acceptance of Chinese payment platforms, we help students cover their costs easier and give them better FX rates, while reducing merchant fees. It’s a win-win for all parties.”

As a special promotional offer, Alipay is hosting a kick-off campaign that rewards Chinese students with a UBC-branded water bottle when using their platform to purchase at least $40 of books or supplies at the UBC Bookstore Vancouver campus location.

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