Downing students launches UK’s first WeChat payment service for Chinese tenants

Leading student accommodation provider Downing Students has launched its first mini programme on the popular Chinese messaging service WeChat, making it easier for Chinese students to make cross-border transactions.

The company is believed to be the first and only UK accommodation provider to have an exclusive WeChat application. WeChat is used by hundreds of millions of Chinese people daily for a range of services including messaging, mobile payments and bill paying.

Downing Students’ mini programme includes a payment service that aims to simplify the international transaction process for Chinese students and letting agents.

Although mobile payments are very common in China, simple cross-border transactions can often be difficult and time consuming to arrange. Guidelines on foreign exchange mean that students currently have to go through a lengthy application process with their bank before being granted access to an international transfer function.

Previously, students have been restricted to paying their deposit through a bank or letting agent, many of which charge a handling fee – an added cost which will not be incurred by mini programme users.

Downing Students’ application also allows students to easily view property details and availability across its UK student accommodation portfolio.  Students can then book rooms and pay a deposit using WeChat Pay and will receive their tenancy agreement via the app.

“We’re delighted to be introducing our landmark WeChat application which we hope will help to simplify what can often be an incredibly complex and drawn-out payment process for our Chinese students.

“While the prospect of moving to the UK to study is an incredibly exciting one, we also appreciate that moving to the other side of the world can be quite stressful and we want to ensure that our students feel supported from the outset.

“Through our mini programme, students will be able to view, book and pay for their accommodation with just a few clicks. Once the application is fully up and running, we will be encouraging all of our Chinese agent partners to use it and benefit from the time and labour savings that the platform offers.”

Ann Lodge

Joint chief executive at Downing Students

Downing is one of the United Kingdom’s leading providers of student accommodation. It currently owns and operates over 7,000 student beds across nine different locations including London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Downing also has a further 4,000 beds in the pipeline across the country.