Our reporter Li Hui reports from Beijing

  Recently, a payment industry policy issued in early October "broken the circle" in the form of a misunderstanding, aroused the attention of many parties from supervision to the market, and continued to ferment.

  The "personal collection code" of Alipay and WeChat Pay involved in this incident is related to the daily transactions of the majority of micro-business operators. It also involves supervision of the governance of the current outstanding risks in the payment field, and it is more related to the multi-party competition pattern in the payment industry chain market. It also reflects the game of multi-party interests behind an "accidental" "misreading".

  What are the risks of personal payment codes?

What is the core of the supervision and purge in the release of Circular 259?

Which industry chain participants are involved behind the personal collection code business?

What are the impacts and effects of policy changes on all parties?

Will the multi-party game affect the direction of the final policy details?

What is the risk of personal receipt code?

  The policy that triggered the hot discussion this time comes from the "Notice on Strengthening the Management of Payment Acceptance Terminals and Related Services (Yinfa [2021] No. 259)" (hereinafter referred to as "Circular 259") issued by the People's Bank of China on October 13 this year.

This document puts forward management requirements for POS machines and other bank card acceptance terminals, barcode payment acceptance terminals, innovative payment acceptance terminals, etc. A major new idea is to include barcode payment (ie, QR code payment) terminals into standardized management for the first time.

  The market is no stranger to personal collection codes, because they have made great contributions to the offline expansion of Alipay and WeChat Pay in recent years.

  In February 2017, Alipay took the lead in launching a cash collection code to provide payment collection services and bill management services to small and micro merchants such as snack bars, roadside stalls, and grocery stores.

A publicly disclosed data is: At the end of 2017, the number of users of Alipay's payment code nationwide reached 40 million.

  At the end of 2017, WeChat Pay launched the "Smart Assistance Program for Small and Medium-sized Merchants", launched the "Receiving Small Ledger" official small program on the QR code collection interface, and added a series of value-added services for operators.

Under the industrial Internet strategy, Tencent disclosed data in its 2019 annual report that the average daily transaction volume of commercial payments in WeChat Pay in the fourth quarter of 2019 exceeded 1 billion.

  From the perspective of the nature of the business, the personal collection code does not follow the path of the acquiring business "card issuer (account institution)-clearing institution-acquirer-merchant", but a "consumer-merchant" transfer model, which means Most of the collection code transactions do not need to bear the cost of the acquiring rate, which is why this method is favored by small and micro merchants such as roadside stalls, and it can also be regarded as a way for the twin giants to support and expand small and micro merchants.

  However, it is also an objective fact that the transaction information of individual-to-person transfers is not transparently transmitted, and the account security level is low.

The data shows that in recent years, the use of personal static collection codes to carry out illegal activities has increased, such as point-to-point remote transfer of gambling funds, which is not uncommon, which has brought difficulties to risk monitoring.

  Circular 259 has three main requirements for barcode payment: restricting personal static collection barcodes to be used for remote non-face-to-face collection; not using personal collection barcodes for business activities related collection services; formulating a collection barcode classification management system, Distinguish between personal code and special merchant code.

  Mu Chu, editor-in-chief of the mobile payment network, told the reporter of China Business News that restricting non-face-to-face collection of payments can curb the huge money laundering risks caused by "off points".

The original intention of distinguishing between personal codes and special merchant codes is to continue to guide the return of personal codes to personal small amounts.

It can further strengthen the management level, prevent risks, and better empower merchants.

  However, it should be noted that Circular 259 is not only issued for bar code payment, and its focus is still on bank card terminals.

  An Internet banking scene expansion senior person told reporters that the core of Circular 259 is to strengthen the management of payment terminals, and fundamentally strengthen the elimination of false merchants on POS machines and "one machine with multiple merchants", "one machine with multiple codes" and "code sets". Such violations as repeated bans are not targeted at merchants with real scenes, let alone small and micro merchants such as roadside stalls.

"However, in order to avoid the account being used and improve account security, if the amount of payment is large, it is safer to upgrade to a merchant code." He said.

  However, how to distinguish between personal code and merchant code is still difficult.

The reporter noted that the requirement of Circular 259 is, “For individuals with obvious characteristics of business activities, the bar code payment collection service agency shall provide them with barcodes for the collection of special merchants.” However, Circular 259 is still relevant for what is an obvious business activity. No rules.

  A veteran in the mobile payment industry told reporters that this classification standard has certain difficulties. On the one hand, each institution faces different business conditions. On the other hand, how to protect the interests of small and micro groups in the process of preventing risks is still a matter of supervision. Issues that need to be considered in policy implementation.

  Mu Chu believes that the transfer of personal code funds tends to be transfers and remittances between people. There is no operational exchange between the two. In principle, this is not included in consumption or production.

The transfer of funds from merchant codes tends to be a consumption, exchange of goods or services, and there is a conversion of production value, which is an important statistical dimension of the national economy.

  Regarding issues such as classification standards, Alipay and WeChat Pay are unwilling to respond positively, and relevant insiders said: still need to wait for further clarification of supervision.

The game is intensifying, and the policy still needs to be buffered

  In fact, Circular 259 did not attract the attention of groups outside the payment industry when it was issued in October.

The sudden outbreak of misunderstanding this time also revealed the game and "leveraging" of the stakeholders in the industry chain.

  The reporter interviewed many people in the payment industry and traced the link of public opinion fermentation: On the afternoon of November 24, a public account for tax financing released some of the policies of Circular 259.

On the evening of November 24, some business personnel in the field of aggregate payment also began to forward it on the official account and Moments, mainly to promote business expansion.

Since then, the information was paid attention to by the official media and the title was mistakenly posted.

  After the topic became a hot topic, some aggregate payment companies and acquirers became more excited than Alipay and WeChat Pay, which were silent.

In the reporter's circle of friends, many aggregators and acquirers also forwarded relevant information and expressed high-profile benefits.

On that day, acquirers and a number of digital renminbi concept stocks soared.

  Is the policy impact so simple and direct?

Will the upgrade of personal collection codes really lead to a decrease in the market share of Alipay and WeChat Pay, and encourage acquiring institutions and aggregate payment companies to usher in a positive?

  The reporter learned that there are currently three types of payment codes in the offline scan code payment market: personal codes introduced by account institutions such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, merchant codes provided by Alipay, WeChat Pay, and Cloud QuickPass, as well as those with certain "universal" codes. Nature" aggregate payment merchant code.

There are also differences in the characteristics and nature of the merchants corresponding to the three.

  Among them, the essence of the personal code on the payment link is money transfer. Because it does not involve fee rates, it is widely used, and most of them are self-employed, family workshops and other natural persons. Behind the aggregate payment code is aggregate payment service provider + acquiring institution, which is a typical Quartet Mode, there is a rate cost (approximately three to six thousandths), the merchant group is more of supermarkets, chain stores, etc.

  In practice, the merchant code actually has some complexity.

In fact, there are currently no clear definitions for the distinction between merchant codes and personal codes and account security models for Alipay and WeChat Pay.

  For a long time, Alipay and WeChat have also promoted the upgrade of small merchants to "merchant codes" in the actual expansion, by filling in personal information, business information, etc. to obtain certification, and get more targeted value-added services.

"The essence is to identify business individuals from the user group, clarify transaction scenarios, and continue to cover more value-added services, but there is not necessarily a difference in the funding link." A person from a Beijing payment institution told reporters.

  From the perspective of the funding link, it is not clear whether the business nature of the merchant code is the acquiring mode or the transfer mode. This is also an accompanying problem that is not clear on the aforementioned "obvious business behavior" standard.

  The aforementioned scenario expansion business person told reporters that part of the merchant codes of Alipay and WeChat Pay use the acquiring model.

In this mode, except for the fee rate for collecting money through "Huabe/Credit Card" which is 6 per thousand, other rates are basically 3 per thousand.

However, most of the merchant codes of the two are still "transfer codes" in essence. After all, the cost is lower, and the base of these small and micro operators is also relatively large.

  In his opinion, this type of small and micro group is not the main target customer group of Aggregate Code itself. Even if the merchant code is upgraded, it will tend to Alipay and WeChat Pay’s own "merchant codes", which is a major benefit to Aggregate Payment and acquirers. It's hard to say.

  "For most small and micro merchants, they think that the three-thousandths rate is already very high. At present, Alipay and WeChat mainly reduce or exempt most merchant code rates through subsidies, and provide free withdrawal lines, so There is also no situation where the cost of an aggregate payment code must be lower than that of a merchant code offline," the source revealed.

  As for whether the "merchant code" must be an "acquisition model", whether the "merchant code" of Alipay and WeChat Pay in practice meets the requirements of the "special merchant code" mentioned in Circular 259, a number of industry experts interviewed by the reporter And the agency also believes that: it is not clear yet, and it is necessary to wait for the supervision rules.

  The aforementioned people in the mobile payment industry told reporters: At present, a large part of the merchant code has not passed through the clearing agency, but it cannot be said that it must be a transfer.

The nature of its business is a bit similar to the "present on behalf of" business between banks—similar to using Bank A's POS machine to swipe Bank A's card, and the information is transparently transmitted to the clearing agency, but no fee rate will be incurred.

Consumers use their Alipay (or WeChat Pay) account balance to scan the QR code to pay to the merchant’s Alipay (or WeChat Pay) account. This model cannot be said to be illegal.

  "If the merchant code is completely transformed into an acquiring model on a large scale, how can this cost problem be solved? Small and micro merchants are profit-seeking, and eventually they will choose a free method (transfer) to make transactions. The core is how to strengthen the account security level , How to identify real transactions, this also requires payment institutions to take responsibility." He said bluntly.

  It can be seen that due to the large number of stakeholders involved, the implementation of this policy may still require a long buffer period and game.

Some industry players believe that Circular 259 may be more bad for some acquirers than good.

  The aforementioned scene expansion person told reporters that the core of this policy is to crack down on cash-out, "run points", and fake merchants.

Compared with the small and high frequency of Alipay and WeChat Pay, the cash-out risk of acquiring institutions in recent years is more worthy of attention.

Pursuant to Circular 259, the acquiring institution shall establish the associated correspondence relationship and non-compliance of the five elements of the special merchant code, the acquirer code, the unified social credit code of the special merchant, the special merchant's acquiring settlement account, and the location of the barcode payment auxiliary acceptance terminal. Tampering.

Once this policy is strictly implemented, it will be a huge blow to cash.