WorldFirst, a one-stop global payment and financial services platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) engaged in cross-border trade, reported that international SME buyers have increasingly adopted the WorldFirst cross-border pay solution for 1688, one of China's top wholesale marketplaces, as SME in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world seek cost-effective sourcing options to stay competitive.
During the first eight months of 2023, transactions by WorldFirst SME customers which sourced from 1688’s vast product marketplace through cross-border pay increased by over 50% to more than RMB 22 billion, or $3.03 billion. The number of new SME who signed up for the solution rose nearly 20%. Stationaries, petting products, gardening supplies, toys, and storage containers were among the most popular goods for these international buyers.
WorldFirst cross-border pay offers international buyers an option to make payments to 1688 sellers without the need to set up an onshore bank account in China. The buyers will also benefit from highly competitive foreign exchange rates, as inbound payment is settled at the offshore yuan rate.
Daniel Chua, head of commercial for Southeast Asia, WorldFirst, said: “We understand the immense potential that lies in helping SME compete on a global scale. By integrating with 1688, we enable businesses of all sizes to efficiently source products from one of the world's largest wholesale markets, regardless of their location. This integration underscores our commitment to helping SME thrive globally."
The integration has enabled SME in more markets to source from 1688. Singapore and Malaysia experienced one of the most impressive growths in terms of new sign-ups. The number of new cross-border pay customers from Singapore more than doubled and that from Malaysia surged 69% on year. During the first eight months, cross-border pay transactions by buyers from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand grew 21%, 11%, and 11%, respectively, from the same period a year earlier.
With the explosive growth of e-commerce, SME have increasingly turned to platforms like 1688 for diverse sourcing options. However, navigating the complexities of international transactions and currency exchanges has historically posed challenges for these businesses. As an official payment partner with 1688, WorldFirst collaborated with the marketplace to jointly launch cross-border pay in 2019, aiming to address these pain points and streamline the way SME access and transact with suppliers on 1688.
Since its launch in 2019, 1688 has seen growing interest from Singapore-based SME. “More Singapore SME have been turning to 1688 to connect with suppliers. In particular, we’re seeing more larger size SME using the platform to source goods and engage in cross-border e-commerce. All of this is important for the growth of Singapore’s international trade and expanding the options available to the country’s SME. We plan to roll out cross-border pay to more markets to help SME stay competitive, expand their product offerings, and ultimately drive growth,” said Chua, who is based in Singapore.
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker