China payment methods suitable for foreign developers

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Basically all the payment methods widely used in the western world like Paypal, Google Checkout, Play store payment are not available in China, i.e. China users simply cannnt pay using these services even if they want to as they are inaccessible/blocked. Similar to the Android app store, China have its own independent payment services which process transactions in RMB to/from China bank accounts only. Fortunately, there are significantly less, only about a handful of companies providing these payment services than App stores. If you happen to utilize these China payment services, the fees they charge are comparable to Paypal, at around 2-3%.

In any case, foreign developers cannot utilize these payment services without a China based partner to receive and forward the payment overseas. So what options do you have?

Based on our research, the best way to charge China based customers is through carrier billing. One of the reasons is that there are significant portion of China customers who don't use or have account with those China based payment services. Carrier billing is the only method that can ensure all China users can make payment for your app's services if they want to. To illustrate the importance of using carrier billing as a payment method in China, take a look at CocoChina's revenue source below.

One disadvantage in using carrier billing is the relatively low payout rate as the carrier takes a large percentage out from the payment, compared to 70% payout from Google Play store and ~ 96% payout after Paypal's commission.

The table below list carrier billing services that provide China carrier billing with payout methods suitable for foreign (non-China) based developers

ServicesfortumoPayOne Boku
China Payout rate35%74%?
Minimum payoutUS$150?
Payout frequencymonthly/one-time?
Payout methods/fees

PayPal: free
Skrill: 1 EUR
Wire transfer to EU country: 1 EUR
Wire transfer to a country outside EU: 8 EUR

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In case you are considering to release your app as a paid app to China's app store, aside from the problem that you need a China based bank account and partner to get the payment, you might be pleased to know that China app stores also charge similar rate as Google play, 30% commission on app sales. For more information on this, take a look at appflood's article - Chinese app store and channel revenue share deals.

Feel free to let us know if any of the information above is incorrect or you found another alternative.

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