On Tuesday, in the waning days of his administration, President Trump signed an executive order banning eight Chinese payment apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay—two of the most popular in the world. The intent of the ban, according to the order, is to prevent Chinese companies from “harvesting” the sensitive personal and payment data of U.S. consumers.
“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,” the executive order states, according to a Reuters report. Such data collection “would permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”
While Alipay has more than 1.3 billion active users worldwide, the vast majority are Chinese citizens in China or Chinese travelers abroad. So, according to experts, the actual effect of the order will not be significant, and many expect the incoming Biden administration to rescind it quickly.
The President has ordered the Commerce Department to define what transactions will be banned under the directive within 45 days. In addition to Alipay and WeChat Pay, the order named CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office.