How do you send money internationally with Alipay? Along with WeChat, Alipay handles a vast majority of financial transactions for the Chinese population. As a foreigner, is it possible to take advantage of Alipay to wire money home? And if so, how exactly is it done? I’d like to answer these questions and more in this simple guide.
Sending money home from China can be confusing and difficult. There are quite a few options for sending money to/from China, but most people default to walking into their local bank. Not only is physically going to the bank to make a wire transfer a hassle, but the language barrier may leave you questioning if your hard earned cash will actually make it safely to your home bank account.
Instead of stressing out at the bank, a lot of people are adopting new technology in the form of apps like WeChat and Alipay. For this guide, we’re going to specifically focus on Alipay since we’ve already covered WeChat at length.
Requirements & Restrictions | Sending Money with Alipay
With Alipay, sending money home is incredibly easy and you can do it all with a smartphone over a few simple steps. But before I go into the process, it’s important to know a little background on submitting wire transfers in China.
- Alipay only allows Chinese citizens to send money through the app. If you try with your personal account, it will ask you to register a Chinese ID, which you don’t have. So ask a Chinese friend to help you with the transfer.
- The maximum amount of money you can transfer with one wire is 30,000 RMB. You are allowed to up two international transfers a day with a maximum total of 60,000 RMB.
- Alipay charges you 50 RMB per transfer and you will also be charged a fee upon receipt by the recipient bank.
- Chinese citizens are limited to sending a maximum of $50,000 USD overseas annually. If you are fortunate enough to be wiring amounts this large back home, you will need to enlist the help of several Chinese friends.
With that background information in mind, you’ll want to make sure you’ve downloaded the Alipay app for iPhones or Android devices and created an account. The transfer process can be done by following simple steps.
Step 1: Find the International Transfer Function in Alipay
It’s likely whoever is helping you transfer money back home is well familiar with the Alipay menu, but just in case, I’ve copied below how to access the international wire transfer function below.
First, from the home menu, select the more options button.
Second, select the Shanghai Bank international wire button towards the bottom of the menu.
Lastly, push the blue button below to proceed to fill out the banking information for the international transfer.
Step 2: Enter Recipient Banking Information
Now that we’ve found the place in the Alipay app menu where wire transfers are initiated, we need to add in the appropriate information.
From top to bottom, you enter the recipient’s full name as listed in their bank account, the country of residence, and home address.
In the lower section, you start by selecting the recipient’s bank from the list of choices.
Once you select the bank, the SWIFT code auto-fills, which saves you the trouble of having to look that up. Below the SWIFT code, enter the routing number and the recipient’s bank account number.
After all the information is filled-in push the next steps button in blue.
Step 3: Enter Sender’s Information in Alipay
Most of the items here will be self-explanatory for the Chinese person helping you with the transfer.
However, use careful attention to properly select the currency you are listing the transfer amount under on the first line. Last thing you want is being charged overdraft fees for sending US$30,000 when you initially wanted to send 30,000 RMB.
Additionally, you need to select a reason for the transfer. The reasons include traveling, paying tuition among other explanations why a Chinese person would need to send money overseas. In this example, I selected personal travel as there is no option for helping out foreign friends sending hard earned money home.
Again, once you have everything listed, push the next button in blue to continue.
Step 4: Terms and Conditions
After filling out the sender’s information, you will be direct to a terms and conditions page where you need to review the terms of the transfer before proceeding. After 20 seconds, the next button will display where you can proceed with submitting the transaction.
Step 5: Submit the Transfer
Before submitting the wire transfer, Alipay asks follow-up questions based on what is listed for the reason for the transfer.
In this case, I selected travel and it asked me how the sender will be traveling abroad and will the sender be traveling independently or with a group. As this is not relevant to you, you can list whatever you want.
The Chinese government in recent years has been really careful about money being sent overseas, so this is a way for them to track capital outflows.
When ready, select the submit button in blue and you will receive confirmation on the transfer from Alipay.
Frequently Asked Questions for Alipay:
How long does it take for the wire transfer to go through?
This depends on the recipient bank’s institution. After making the transfer, check with the recipient to confirm receipt or contact the home bank to verify how long it will take for the funds to transfer.
What should I do if I notice I made a mistake in listing the recipient account?
If the funds have yet to be transferred to the recipient bank, contact Alipay to cancel the transfer. If the transfer has already gone through, work with the recipient bank or recipient to cancel the transfer and send the money back.
Why was my wire transfer rejected or sent back?
Most likely you made a mistake in listing the recipient’s name or bank routing and account numbers. Otherwise, there could be other factors preventing the transfer with the recipient bank. Under this scenario, contact the recipient bank for more information.
Final Thoughts | International Transfers with Alipay
Prior to sending money home with Alipay, check to ensure all the information on the recipient end is correct. If listed incorrectly, you will still get docked all the transfer fees from Bank of Shanghai and the recipient bank to get the money back.
It also couldn’t hurt to do a practice transfer with a small amount. You can also save the recipient information in Alipay making it much easier to send money home the second time around.
Have you sent money internationally using Alipay before? Share your experience in the comments below!