Did you know that China has a cash-and credit-free system of payment? 

During my 2018 summer vacation in China, I was shocked to find that cash is useless. Instead of cash, people use digital payments via the WeChat pay app. 

WeChat is China’s largest multi-purpose social media app. According to Statista, the app is the most common messaging system in China, with over a billion monthly active users as of 2018

Literally, everyone in the city- from young teens to grandmas, use WeChat. So, it isn’t surprising that WeChat Pay is the common form of payment in urban areas. 

But what really surprised me about WeChat Pay was that I could use it for EVERYTHING! I used it to shop at convenience stores, arcades, restaurants and clothing stores at the mall. My favorite WeChat Pay item of the summer: a delicious and fancy drink from a bbq restaurant.  

I also used it in unexpected places. I WeChat paid for my subscription for the Chinese version of Netflix, at a train station vending machine for a snack,  and even my phone bill

And it wasn’t just in urban areas. A countryside mountain vendor sold me water via WeChat pay! When I asked the vendor if he took cash, he flat out said, “No.” 

If you’re traveling to China for study abroad or work, make sure to check out WeChat Pay. It will come in handy. 

How to set up WeChat Pay?

To set up WeChat Pay, all you need is a WeChat account and a Chinese bank account. The system works via QR code. For example, a cashier can scan your barcode, allowing you to pay for their product. You can also scan the store’s bar code to create a transaction. 

Then, you can authorize the transaction with a password or keycode. 

Similarly, WeChat Pay can also be used like Venmo to transfer money between friends. Because WeChat Pay links directly to your Chinese bank account, there are no extra fees for using the feature. There is also little to no processing time. You won’t need a separate app to access your wallet!

According to CNBC, it is common to go around cashless in China using WeChat Pay. It’s true! Most people in Chinese urban areas have already foregone a physical wallet for a digital one. They are living cashless lifestyles. Not to mention, those who are traveling abroad won’t have to worry about currency exchange. 

Photo by Bianca

So what do you think about WeChat Pay? Where is the most unusual place it has come in handy?  

Let us know in the comments below!



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Bianca Zhou