Mobile payment app WeChat Pay has been launched in the UK and is expected to facilitate spending by Chinese shoppers.

WeChat Pay, which is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent and is a rival to Alibaba’s Alipay, made its debut at London’s Camden Market – a shopping destination popular with Chinese tourists.

The market is asking more than 1,000 shops and restaurants to sign up to the app over the next four months so that those with Chinese bank accounts linked to WeChat can shop there using their smartphones, the Financial Times reported.

Rival payment service Alipay is already in use at leading department stores Selfridges and Harrods, which has separately launched a store overhaul to enhance its appeal to Chinese shoppers.

Camden market operations director Ceri Davies told the Finacial Times: “In terms of the Chinese market it just offers a very good opportunity to us.

“They’re currently super-attracted by the likes of Selfridges and Harrods and the more ways there are of paying, the better.”

The WeChat messaging app is widely used in China and there are 980 million monthly active users around the world. A Tencent spokesperson said: “Our primary focus is to better serve Chinese outbound tourists.”

At present 10% of visitors to Camden Market are Chinese – up from 5% in September last year.

In Camden Market, shops that use WeChat will pay between 0.6% and 2% in commission to payments company SafeCharge.

SafeCharge chief executive David Avgi said: “The plan is not just Camden. Selfridges, Harrods, they’re all next.”