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Wire transfers to Chinese bank account


marcop1
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My wife usually transfers the money from her bank to my UK bank. Over the last 7 years it's become more and more difficult. It used to be a simple form online, then it was "come in person to confirm it, then you can use online banking to transfer", then it became "we need the passport and visa of the foreigner". Most recently it was "you need to show us your wedding certificate to prove you're sending it to your husband's account." However, every time it got sent and I usually received it the next day in the UK (don't forget about the time different, so if I sent it Tues 9:00 (Chinese time), I'd usually get it in the UK by about Wednesday evening (Chinese time). The only time it took longer was when my bank thought it could be fraud and I had to deal with that on the phone. 

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14 hours ago, 889 said:

Try sending USD, SGD, GBP, etc.

 

OK I get it now... the Chinese Citizen ID requirement is only there on my banking website if I try to send RMB. 

 

USD etc requires a SWIFT code and so is being done by the usual telegraphic transfer method.

 

I'm not particularly interested in TransferWise any more — although it did just give me a way to send money from the UK to Singapore without paying the big SWIFT charges.  But it will be useful to know how to get money from the UK into my ICBC account in the future.  (And if/when the pound recovers.)

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

One website that many of my friends have been using is https://swapsy.com/?reference=reddit
This website allows you to exchange your currency into USD safely at a pretty cheap rate. If you have Alipay or Wechat pay then you can definitely do this. I haven't used it myself personally but I have heard good things about it from my friends who live in China.

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I've used Swapsy regularly to send money from China to my UK PayPal account... it could do with some tidying up and the UI needs improving, but it works.


They need to support more e-wallets outside of China apart from just Zelle (bound to certain US bank accounts only) and PayPal.  Plus PayPal is unavailable as an option much of the time, and when it is there's a transfer limit of USD 300.  

 

These days you can only exchange between USD and RMB. They used to support GBP and CAD as well a year or two ago.


The Swapsy fees are low, but then you get stung by the awful PayPal exchange rates changing USD to local currency if you're not in the USA. Presumably it's similar going in the other direction.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
6 minutes ago, alantin said:

I don't have experience with it sending money to/from China.

 

Transferwise (now called "Wise") is great, but it can't send money out of China.  Plus you can only send money into China if it's going to the bank account of a Chinese citizen.

 

 

 

 

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OK this is about getting money OUT of China, but nevertheless I hope it could be useful...

 

I've spent a lot of time trying to work this out over the last couple of years, and my conclusions are:

 

If you're inside PRC

 

  • Just go to your bank with your passport and all the necessary paperwork (income tax certificate from your local tax office — "个人所得税纳税记录" — showing income and tax paid for the last X months is greater than the amount you want to send; statement of income over the last X months from your HR dept; work contract, etc) and then spend 2-3 hours sitting around so you can convert the money in your account from RMB to to the target currency, and then finally transfer it using the SWIFT system to your overseas bank account.  Getting the tax certificate can apparently be done using a phone app although I've not managed it yet.  Otherwise you go to your local tax office to get it done. SWIFT fees are fixed at around  USD 35 so if you transfer large amounts then this is by far the most cost-effective method, and if you only do it every few months then the documentation and waiting doesn't seem too onerous. The last time I did this the money arrived in my UK bank in one hour. Impressive! Well done ICBC.

 

If you're outside the PRC


Either:

  • Use your UnionPay card to withdraw cash at a local ATM (outside China) that supports this .... example: in the UK — Barclays bank, or machines on the same network, such as at ASDA supermarkets. If you have more than one bank card you could send it to a trusted person in your home country to do the withdrawals for you of course. Be aware that there's a limit on how much you can withdraw using all UnionPay cards associated with an account (last year it was RMB 100,000), and if you exceed this limit you're blocked from doing all overseas withdrawals in the current year and the following year. 

    or
     
  • Open a PayPal account in Hong Kong (may require using a VPN connected into HK) and then connect your Chinese UnionPay card to the account. You need a HK or mainland phone number to connect to the account.  You can then send money from your HK/Chinese account to an overseas PayPal account in USD only, although this will incur exorbitant currency exchange charges.

    or
     
  • use Swapsy with all the caveats listed above.

 

Hope this helps.  The situation is not great at the moment, but PRC is moving at high speed with implementing its digital RMB, which might change things a little. There have also been trials, in places like Shanghai, of a "fast pass" or similar that makes the process easier for expats. So things might get easier in the next year or two... who knows?

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Possibly worth adding.... (even though this was a failed experiment)

Due to living there for a while, I have an account in Singapore with DBS.  They offer a UnionPay debit card, which I thought could be useful. So applied for one.

 

I eventually received the card, which has a 16-digit number, compared to the 18-19 digits more common in PRC.

 

I tried to "bind" it to my WeChat and AliPay accounts but it wasn't accepted.  Alipay said it wasn't "currently" accepted, and Alipay has an international version that works in Singapore, so maybe it's possible this might change in the future... but I'm not holding my breath.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/7/2021 at 12:19 AM, mungouk said:

 

I tried to "bind" it to my WeChat and AliPay accounts but it wasn't accepted.  Alipay said it wasn't "currently" accepted, and Alipay has an international version that works in Singapore, so maybe it's possible this might change in the future... but I'm not holding my breath.

 

Yes, it won't work. Mainland versions of WeChat/AliPay only accept Mainland UnionPay cards. For HK UnionPay cards, some may work with the HK versions of WeChat/AliPay (which may work for many vendors in Mainland China, but not P2P money transfers in RMB).  Unfortunately, I don't think SG has local versions of WeChat/Alipay. Another thing is you can use the UnionPay card to 刷卡 directly in China. Most HK UnionPay cards also support Apple Pay, but I don't think DBS SG supports this. There is no android equivalent to Apple Pay for UnionPay NFC though. In Mainland China/HK there is 云闪付, but availability is very card specific even in Mainland China/HK.

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6 hours ago, Takeshi said:

Mainland versions of WeChat/AliPay only accept Mainland UnionPay cards.

 

My WeChat APP was actually downloaded from the UK iOS App store (and some of the UI is in English), but the UnionPay card isn't accepted anyway.

 

SG did use to have its own version of Alipay when I was living there 2.5 years ago; not sure if it's still operating.

 

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On 6/21/2021 at 5:49 PM, mungouk said:

My WeChat APP was actually downloaded from the UK iOS App store (and some of the UI is in English), but the UnionPay card isn't accepted anyway.

 

No, that's not what I meant.

 

How WeChat regions work is: it doesn't matter where you download the app from, your WeChat region goes with your phone number. So if you are a Mainland phone number, you have a Mainland WeChat, UK phone number, then UK WeChat. The language of the app doesn't mean anything, it is just the language your phone is set to (some people have noted that some functions are not available if your language is not set to Chinese, even if you have a Mainland number registered account; changing the language fixes this issue).

 

WeChat Pay is only available in a few specific regions: Mainland, HK, Malaysia. If your WeChat account (phone number) is not from any of these regions, WeChat Pay will not appear in your WeChat. BUT, you may be able to use WeChat Pay from one of the above regions if someone with WeChat Pay sends you a 红包. In which case, you get access to the WeChat pay region of the 红包 you receive. So if a Mainland WeChat Pay user sends you an RMB 红包 you get access to Mainland WeChat Pay, if a HK WeChat Pay user sends you a HKD 红包 you get access to HK WeChat Pay etc. If you use this method to receive 红包 from different regions, you can have multiple regions of WeChat Pay active at the same time, and a "switch pay region" option will pop-up in the settings.

 

I think the Mainland version of WeChat Pay will only accept Mainland issued UnionPay cards. (It accepts Foreign Visa and Mastercard, not sure about UnionPay, but the catch is you have to have undergone real person verification to add one of these cards, and for foreigners without a Chinese ID, the only way to do real person verification is basically to add a Mainland Chinese bank card.) The HK version of WeChat accepts certain HK UnionPay cards (but not Mainland ones, and even for HK cards only specific cards support it).

 

A SG UnionPay card is probably not accepted by any version of WeChat Pay atm, unless someday WeChat opens a SG version of WeChat Pay like they did in Malaysia and South Africa*.

 

EDIT: Regarding the SG version of Alipay, I don't believe such a thing has ever existed. As far as I am aware, there only are Mainland and Macau versions in the main Alipay app, and a separate AlipayHK app for a HK version. There is also an "International" version in the main app, but this is mainly for foreigners to use their foreign cards to pay within China.

 

If you see Alipay stickers in SG or other countries, probably it was just payment processors for the Mainland version. There are such payment processors in many countries. Generally to use these, you need to have the Mainland version of Alipay, and have a Mainland Chinese ID card. (Though AlipayHK may also be accepted in some places)

 

EDIT2: I just realized that the South Africa version of WeChat Pay shut down last year.

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3 hours ago, Takeshi said:

Regarding the SG version of Alipay, I don't believe such a thing has ever existed.

 

Well there was plenty of talk about a local version of Alipay in the news when I was still there (I left in 2018), and as I remembered there was certainly an alipay.com.sg at that time (now gone) although not all of it is archived in the wayback machine.

 

image.thumb.png.95499eb7f0a4950449121435ee547f9a.png

 

I guess the partnering they were working on never came to fruition, or possibly it was stifled to give local cashless operators a better chance.

 

I think you're right that now you can only use it in SG with a Chinese Mainland phone and card. 

 

 

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