WeChat is used for multiple purposes in China, from booking taxis and plane tickets to ordering food online. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Known as the ‘super app’, or ‘everything app’, WeChat is essential for daily life in China. If you are travelling from the UAE to China, for tourism, business purposes, or to visit family, you will need the app for many things, including communicating with others, making payments, booking taxi rides or booking a train or flight ticket.

You can sign up for it using a foreign phone number and also link your foreign bank card to it for payment in China. Here is how.

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How to sign up for WeChat using a foreign phone number

Follow these 12 steps to sign up for WeChat using your foreign phone number:

1. Download the WeChat application on your phone

It is available for download on various devices, including Apple and Android devices. Type ‘WeChat’ in the search bar in your App Store, if you are using an Apple phone, or in your Google Play Store, if you are using an Android phone. Then tap ‘download’.

2. Open the application on your phone. You will see the message ‘‘WeChat’ would like to send you notifications’, tap ‘allow’.

3. Next, you will see language option on the right corner of the interface. Select your preferred language.

4. Then, tap ‘sign up’ at the bottom of the page.

5. You will see a pop up window asking you to select the sign up method. Choose ‘sign up with mobile’.

6. On the next page, you will need to fill in your full name, region, phone number and password. Select ‘I have read and accept the terms of service’ on the same page, and tap the ‘accept and continue’ button.

7. Afterwards, you will see a privacy policy page. Read the page carefully, select ‘I have read and agree to the above terms’, then tap ‘next’.

8. A security verification page will show up with the message ‘for the security of your account, verify security verification code before registration’. Tap ‘start’.

9. You will then see a verification page asking you to ‘drag the slider below to fit the puzzle piece’. Do as instructed.

10. You will then see a page asking you to contact a WeChat user and ask the user to scan the QR code presented on this page, using their WeChat app. This step serves the purpose of verifying your account. The WeChat user you contact must meet these conditions:

a. The person has signed up for WeChat over six months ago.
b. The person has activated WeChat Pay.
c. The person hasn’t done ‘help friend register’ for other users in the past month.
d. The person hasn’t been blocked in the past month.

If the WeChat user you contacted is unable to scan the QR code. He or she can also open their WeChat app, search for ‘WeChat Team’, tap ‘account’ and select ‘help friend register’. He or she should then enter your mobile number there to finish the step.

11. Afterwards, a page will show up on your phone stating ‘verification successful’. At the bottom of the page, you will see the button ‘back to sign up’, tap on it.

12. On the next page, tap ‘send SMS’. You will then receive an SMS code on your phone, fill the code in ‘edit SMS’ column. Then, tap ‘SMS sent. Next.’. You should know that the SMS code will be sent to the same phone number you used to sign up.

You will then finish signing up your WeChat account using your foreign phone number. At this stage, you will be able to use WeChat to communicate with others. For example, you can add friends, message them, as well as make voice and video calls. You can also post pictures and videos on your ‘WeChat moment’, to share with others.

However, you won’t be able to make a payment using WeChat Pay yet, unless you activate your WeChat Pay and link your foreign bank card to it. This is an important step because not all places in China accept foreign bank card payment. Moreover, cash payment is also not convenient there as the majority of businesses in the country has adopted mobile phone payment, using either WeChat Pay or Alipay.

There are two ways that you can use to make a payment – using WeChat ‘wallet’ or using your bank card directly via WeChat Pay. Image Credit: Pexels

How to activate your WeChat Pay using your foreign bank card

Here is what you need to do to activate your WeChat Pay using a foreign bank card:

• Go to the home page of the app. Tap ‘me’ on the bottom right corner. Then, tap on ‘services’.

• On the next page, Tap 'wallet', then tap ‘ID info’.

• A page will pop up, showing the message ‘real-name authentication’. Tap ‘verify’.

• Then, you will see ‘WeChat Pay user service agreement’, read the agreement carefully, and tap ‘agree’.

• On the next page, you will need to fill in your name, gender, ID type (you can select passport), ID number, ID effective date, ID expiration date, occupation and address. Then, tap ‘next’.

• Afterwards, you will need to enter your bank card number on the ‘add bank card’ page. The system will automatically recognise the type of card you are using. Tap ‘next’.

• Fill in your card information on the next page, including validity, CVV code, billing address, your first name and last name, region, address, registered phone number and email. Make sure all the information you put here aligns with the information you registered with your bank, especially the phone number. You will need to use this phone number to receive a verification code at a later stage.

• Check the box of ‘agree terms of service’. Then, tap ‘next’.

• A verification code will be sent to the phone number you registered with the bank. Enter the code on the next page, and tap ‘next’.

• You will be asked to set payment password on the next page. Set and remember it, as you will need to use it when making a payment.

• A page will pop up afterwards, showing ‘real-name authentication successful’. Tap ‘Done’.

From this point on, you can use WeChat Pay to make a payment in various online and offline shops. There are two ways that you can use to make a payment – using WeChat ‘wallet’ or using your bank card directly via WeChat Pay. These two ways are equally efficient when making a payment, however, if you choose ‘wallet’ payment method, you will need to make sure you have money in your ‘wallet’ – it can be money that your WeChat friend sent to you via the application, or money that you topped up using your linked bank account.

To top up your WeChat ‘wallet’, you need to go to ‘wallet’, select ‘balance’, then tap ‘top up’ on the next page and add the amount you wish to have in your ‘wallet’. By doing so, the amount will be deducted from your bank.