A ban on US corporations utilizing hugely popular Chinese social messaging app WeChat for transactions is a “silly thing” for US President Donald Trump to propose, according to Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s COO of Macau resorts, David Sisk.
Trump issued an executive order last week to make it illegal for US citizens and businesses to “conduct any transaction that is related to WeChat” – a potentially disastrous event for the three Macau-facing US casino operators in Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts. Wynn Macau Ltd earlier this week warned that such a ban could “adversely affect our ability to communicate with certain of our customers.”
While Melco, whose primary operations are based out of Macau and Hong Kong, is one of the three Macau concessionaires that would be comparatively unaffected by such an event, Sisk noted during the company’s 2Q20 earnings call on Thursday that it would be difficult for any concessionaire to conduct business without WeChat.
“If you don’t use WeChat in China, you’re not communicating with anybody. It’s not like everyone has got a bunch of laptops at home,” he said.
“It’s kind of a silly thing in terms of the statement that was made that you’re going to cut that off. You’ve got over a billion people and WeChat is the primary device in which they communicate, it’s a primary device in which a lot of commerce is done as well.
“Our marketing guys, everybody here uses WeChat. I mean, it is the most ubiquitous communication method in the market here. We’ve got great people in terms of how they go out and talk to our customers via WeChat.
“They check up on our customers via WeChat. People send videos, they send voice mails – everything is pretty much done through WeChat. All your social media, everything comes through it. I mean, I think there is no way you’d ever exist without it here.”
Asked if Melco had remained in contact with its own high-end players throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and when they might start returning following resumption of the Individual Visit Scheme in Zhuhai – with Guangdong and the rest of mainland China set to follow – Sisk said the company had been “working hard to maintain those relationships with those players.”
“We know there’s a lot of pent up demand for our players,” he said.
“I think it’s more a matter of them being able to get the visa to come across. We do know that they want to come, it’s just timing and I think they’ve got to make sure that they feel safe.
“One of the bigger issues that we had in the very beginning was a lot of players wanted to come, but when they went back to their home province they had to essentially quarantine for two weeks. If you are a businessman and you are trying to go back and forth, you want to come for a weekend, that’s not going to be very effective to be able to run your business in China.
“So, we do see things getting better. We do see things over time getting to where we want to be. It’s going to take time here, but there are good things on the horizon and we do hear good things from our customers.”