China’s mobile payment is something that you will be addictive once you experienced it. AliPay vs WeChat pay, the most frequently used payment gateway in China. According to the People’s Bank of China, China’s mobile-payment volume has hit 277.4 trillion yuan ($41.51 trillion) in 2018. As an oversea visitor, you may not contribute to this number that much. But you will be part of it from now.
Alipay and Tencent, the top 2 giants, take up to 94% of the country’s mobile payment market. Recently, Alipay first released that oversea visitors are able to enjoy the convenience of mobile payment in China now. WeChat from Tencent made the same announcement soon after that.
Mobile Payment in China
No matter if you are on a vacation or a business trip to China, mobile payment can make your life much easier. Book your tickets and hotel in advance by using apps like Ctrip. There is no need to always present yourself to the train station or the airport.
And when you do product sourcing in China, don’t worry if it’s hard to pay a small amount of sample cost to a supplier. You don’t have to do a bank transfer or Western Union transfer for 30 USD or 50 USD. Alipay and WeChat Pay will take care of that. And you don’t have to bring a wallet with lots of cash or plastic cards. From our experience, a lot of clients visiting Yiwu wholesale market, some of them wish to buy a few items to test, but it’s hard to deal with the vendors. Now, you could save the trouble easily by using WeChat or Alipay.
Before the opening policy, you have to bind a local Chinese bank account with WeChat or Alipay to start using the mobile payment service. To have a Chinese local bank account is not easy for an oversea visitor. But if you are in regular business with China, for example, if you are importing frequently from China, it’s also possible to try to open a Chinese bank account. You may have to try from different banks like Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of China, etc.
Now both WeChat and Alipay have reached cooperation with few international credit card providers including Visa, Mastercard, Discover Global Network (Diners Club), American Express, and JCB.
How to Set Up WeChat Pay with Credit Card?
4 steps to start using WeChat Pay in China.
- Register a WeChat Account.
Download WeChat from the App store if you don’t have one yet.
- Open WeChat. Click ME at the right.
To make it easy, when you open WeChat, you can set the language into English or your local language. (ME-Settings-General-Language)
- Click WeChat Pay—Wallet—Cards
Click WeChat Pay and find your Wallet, then click wallet to the Card section
- Add a Card.
In this step, you need to choose a card type, input card information including card number, expiration, and CVV. Also, you have to fill the billing information includes first name, last name, district, address, phone number and email. After this step, you are ready to pay with Wechat. You could either scan the code from a merchant to pay or show your payment code to a merchant.
How to Set Up Alipay with Credit Card?
Download Alipay from Appstore. And set the language as your language from the upper right language option.
You can use a phone number from your country. After verification, you can also set up the password and a nickname.
Tour Pass is different from the WeChat wallet. It’s more like an e-card which needs to be top-up. And you can only top-up an amount from 100 RMB to 2,000 RMB every time. But you can deposit a few times. Unused funds are refunded to the user after 90 days.
Except for card information, this step may require a bit more information including passport main image, passport number, entry date image on the passport. After this, you are set up.
You will notice the difference between WeChat and Alipay is that WeChat Pay your bill directly with your card, and Alipay requires to buy or top-up a prepaid e-card. After binding your credit card with WeChat or Alipay, you can pay easily to everyone in China. You don’t have to worry if there is no place to exchange the currency or there is fake money out there.
Your Cashless Day in China
Imagine a day of yours with mobile payment in China. You get up at 7 am and fresh yourself in 15 minutes. Soon after that, you go to the street only with the key and your mobile phone. You stop at a small breakfast shop and order some simple food.
You finish the breakfast and pay it after scanning the QR codes on the table without saying much with the shop owner. Then you grab a share bike on the street and scan again the code on the bike to start using it. In 10 minutes, you arrive at your office beginning a busy day of work.
You almost forget to have lunch. But no worry, you open the mobile and switch from eleme and Meituan ( Those 2 are food delivery APP; eleme was wholly owned by Alibaba now.) to order lunch. You have plenty of choices. It’s nothing different from eating at a restaurant. The food is well packed and delivered to you in 30 minutes after you pay the bill via WeChat. You could have a brief nap as of time saved from not having lunch outside.
It’s 6 pm after work. You invite 2 friends for dinner in a nice restaurant. 3 of you order the dishes from a mobile menu after scanning the codes at the corner of the table. The bill again paid by scanning the code from Alipay or WeChat, no counter there anymore. There is a supermarket nearby. You go there and wish to buy some daily used items there. After half an hour of shopping around, you want to leave now. You can either wait in the line or choose to pay the bill by scanning the products in front of a machine. No more payment codes, the machine scan your face and bill is paid after your confirmation with one easy click.
Back home, you almost forget that today is the birthday of one of your best friends from another city. There is no way to meet her or send her a present now. You have a video call with her and send her a red pocket from WeChat…. The story of mobile payment is not ending yet. You can pay train tickets, air tickets, hotel costs, taxi, Uber/Didi and so on all by WeChat or Alipay.
Meanwhile, if you wish to buy from Taobao, Tmall, JD.com, 1688.com, etc. it will be super easy to make a payment. Looking forward to buying like a Chinese? You may also want to check how to buy from 1688.com.