I’m back! After a very, very long winter break the spring semester has finally begun. As I am halfway through my time in China, I’m beginning to miss home. Although, there are some things about China I will also miss. One aspect of my life in China I wish America had is the convenient payment APPs.
In China, cash and cards are things of the past. It is very rare to see people pay with cash and card. Many people use AliPay or their WeChat wallets. These are very important APPs to have if you ever decide to go to China. Virtually every store in China (even the small shops) have a AliPay or WeChat QR code to scan. It makes transactions between customers very quick since you don’t have to wait for change or your chip card. Your bank account is tied directly to these APPs so you have your own individual QR code which can be scanned by the store. There are also nifty features such as collect or split bills which allow you to request your friends to pay you back. I think of these two APPs as a more advanced Venmo.
In America, I used Venmo to pay rent to my landlord and pay back friends for meals. Venmo isn’t quite as technologically adept because you can’t use it to pay at stores. I suppose the closest thing America has to these APPs are ApplePay. The only downside of ApplePay is it isn’t as widely accepted. I had the opportunity to do some traveling during my break and other countries are implementing AliPay and WeChat QR codes. This is because these countries receive a lot of Chinese tourists and they’re simply adapting to their customers. This makes converting cash at money exchanges a thing of the past.
Another feature on these two APPs that make them amazing are the mini-APPs included. Both of these APPs support other APPs that are widely used in China. You can order food from 外卖（wàimài）, hail taxis, unlock rental bikes, buy plane and train tickets, shop from online stores, rent hotels, etc, the options are limitless. You don’t need the download the host APPs. Each of these features have their own APPs but why download them and switch between them when you can just use one?
Both of these APPs have their pros and cons too which is why having both are essential despite them doing the same things. First, WeChat also includes a messenger feature. Stores can also create accounts which you ‘follow’ when you scan a QR code to pay. This can become annoying as the stores constantly bombard you with annoying messages and deals. Of course, you can mute or unfollow them but the next time you go to the store the same process repeats itself. AliPay is much simpler as there isn’t a messenger feature so there aren’t any store profiles to bother you. Sometimes when you’re done paying on AliPay they offer you some money for the subway or a red packet full of money that can be used on your next purchase.
These APPs are a China survival necessity. I’m not ready to go back to waiting for my chip to process and counting coins.