In his final hours in office, Donald Trump once again (ab)uses his powers to strike against China with an Executive Order. This time, he will ban Chinese payment apps, including Alibaba’s Alipay, Tencent’s QC Wallet and WeChat Pay. For national security reasons, of course. Because according to Mr. Donald Trump, these apps can ‘by accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information’ [sic] and that is a national security threat.
There is a loophole in the justification of this Executive Order which is the actual user base of these payment platforms, and not the fantasized ones Donald Trump pretends to be concerned about. PayPal holds the crown with a 55% market share of online and mobile payments in the U.S. That is more than all its competitors combined! Stripe as runner up does not even reach the 20% bar. Apple, Google and Amazon are coming up fast. They might not reach PayPal but they will eat market share in all directions. Compared to that, Alipay is peanuts with a market share of 0.23% in the U.S. and WeChat Pay does not even show up in the Top 100, putting its market share well below 0.01%.
So, what is the fuzz really all about? Definitely not about ‘national security’! This is targeted against U.S. citizens who transfer money to and receive money from Chinese family members and friends, and those who do business with or in China, where these platforms are the most common payment platforms. Just a personal vendetta by Donald Trump against anyone who does business with China one way or the other.
What would have been much more constructive is to initiate regulations for all payment service providers. Like the European Union has done with PSD2 for example. But that is apparently not a priority for Mr. Trump. And the most cynical part about this Executive Order is that it will not come into effect until several weeks after Donald Trump has left the Oval Office!