Financial Services for SMEs: WorldFirst’s 1688 Global Sourcing Integration Sees Steady Adoption

WorldFirst, a “one-stop” global payment and financial services platform for SMEs engaged in cross-border trade, reported that international SME buyers have increasingly “adopted the WorldFirst Cross-border Pay solution for 1688, one of China’s top wholesale marketplaces, as SMEs worldwide seek cost-effective sourcing options to stay competitive.”

During the first eight months of 2023, turnover generated “by WorldFirst SME customers which sourced from 1688’s vast product marketplace through Cross-border Pay increased by over 50% to more than 22 billion yuan, or 3.03 billion US dollars.”

The number of new SMEs who “signed up for the solution rose nearly 20%.” Stationaries, petting products, gardening supplies, toys, and storage containers “were among the most popular goods for these international buyers.”

Daniel Chua, Head of Commercial for Southeast Asia, WorldFirst, said:

“We understand the immense potential that lies in helping SMEs to compete on a global scale. By integrating with 1688, we aim to help businesses of all sizes to efficiently source products from one of the world’s largest wholesale markets, regardless of their location. This integration underscores our commitment to helping SMEs thrive globally.”

With the explosive growth of e-commerce, SMEs have increasingly “turned to platforms like 1688 for diverse sourcing options.”

However, navigating the complexities of international payments and currency exchanges has historically “posed challenges for these businesses.” As an official payment partner with 1688, WorldFirst collaborated with the marketplace to jointly launch Cross-border Pay in 2019, aiming “to address these pain points and streamline the way SMEs access and transact with suppliers on 1688.”

WorldFirst Cross-border Pay “offers international buyers an option to make payments to 1688 sellers without the need to set up an onshore bank account in China.” The buyers will also benefit from highly competitive foreign exchange rates, “as inbound payment is settled at the offshore yuan rate.”

Cross-border Pay usage also “increased in Southeast Asian markets where the solution is available.” During the first eight months, Cross-border Pay turnover, or transaction volume, by buyers from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand “grew 21%, 11%, and 11%, respectively, from the same period a year earlier.” The number of new Cross-border Pay customers “from Singapore more than doubled and that from Malaysia surged 69% on year.”

Since its launch in 2019, Cross-border Pay has experienced consistent year-on-year growth in annual turnover.

Chua said:

“This shows a global payment solution designed to continuously assists SMEs in saving costs and time in international trade is a crucial need of businesses today. And we plan to roll out Cross-border Pay to more markets to help SMEs stay competitive, expand their product offerings, and ultimately drive growth.”

Cross-border Pay is currently available primarily in Southeast Asia, Australia, and other Asia Pacific markets. WorldFirst, a member of Ant Group, plans to “introduce the solution to the United Kingdom and continental European markets in the coming months.”

With 19 years’ experience in facilitating cross-border payments, WorldFirst has consistently strived to offer ground-breaking solutions that help SMEs grow globally. At the 2023 INCLUSION·Conference on the Bund, held from Thursday to Saturday in Shanghai, China, WorldFirst unveiled “a set of upgraded features.” Notably, the latest enhancements will allow China-based sellers to effortlessly “set up a store on over 30 overseas marketplaces through a single application.”

Launched in 1999, 1688 is China’s largest integrated domestic wholesale marketplace in 2021 by net revenue, according to Analysys. It provides sourcing and online transaction services by connecting manufacturers and wholesale sellers “to wholesale buyers in China.”

In recent years, 1688, a business of Alibaba Group, “has attracted a growing number of cross-border buyers to access its vast array of products.” According to 1688, there are 5.7 million cross-border buyers, “contributing to a quarter of its annual GMV.”

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