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LiMo

Experiences of Maintaining Accounts Once Outside of China

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LiMo

I'm just finishing up a 6 month stay in China and I'm interested in keeping my accounts (all of them) running for as long as possible. I'm wondering what other people's experiences are with this. If I can funnel money into my Chinese bank account (UK -> China) will I be able to keep using my Alipay and Wechat accounts for online payment. I remember we had a discussion a while back about paying for ebooks and how difficult that had become, so I'm hoping that now I've got my foot in the door I'll be able to keep it wedged open. What have your experiences been like with this?

 

As an aside, can one easily get things shipped overseas using Taobao? In the UK I can pretty easily get things from the US Amazon but for some reason the Chinese Amazon wasn't so accommodating. My Taobao account allowed me to register a second address overseas but I'm not sure how sellers would respond if requested to ship to Europe.

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歐博思

In my experience if your Chinese cell phone has in your case UK radio bands then you should be half way there already. Mine didn't have signal in the U.S., or didn't have international service turned on and I couldn't since I wasn't in China to do so, or something I can't remember exactly. But as you may know, lots of Chinese services are tied to your cell number, so I do remember exactly that cell service caused a knock-on effect logistically for other services. Are you still in China and can double check your international service capabilities?

 

Regarding Wechat Pay, they just began accepting international credit cards from Visa, Mastercard, and JCB since the beginning of this year. 

 

For your last question, I've noticed that some online services have somewhat of a 'walled garden' for their Chinese sites. For example, Paypal Chinese accounts are separate than other accounts. Computer games will often have servers specifically for China only. There's an international version of Taobao's website and a Chinese one. I can't speak for certain, but I wonder if you will be awkwardly straddling the 'walled garden' with Chinese payment methods and an international address. Chinese parcel carriers are very developed and have no problem shipping internationally, of course, but it may just be that the online forms don't have an option to type your UK address i.e. "We have a Taobao International for that!"

 

Lastly, I wasn't able to initiate an international bank transfer online without first visiting an ICBC branch in person first, but I was already cozy on my chair at home before I knew this. 

 

tl;dr --- Seems like registering a foreign credit card to Wechat Pay may be your best bet.

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Wippen (inactive)

Over the last few months I have noticed it being much harder to transfer money to China from abroad. I transferred money via my own bank in July 2017 no problem. Come November and several banks were unable to offer the same service. Those banks that did, did not have particularly good reviews. In the end it worked out, but I was prepared I may lose the transaction.

 

My friend, who is Chinese, received money from abroad three months ago and immediately received a call from the bank asking what it was for.  She had to provide proof.

 

This suggests to me tighter regulations. Should this be the case, this may impact your plans.

 

 

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889

Above all, you need to make sure international roaming is open on your phone. It'll be hard doing anything unless you can receive codes via SMS.

 

Some Taobao sellers only ship domestically, and this may vary by product. As an alternative, you can try using Taobao's international English site, Aliexpress.

 

Shipping costs may or may not be high for delivery outside China. You might look into transhipment services.

 

Getting money into that account from overseas may be a hassle, and expensive if you manage it. I'd suggest loading your accounts with cash before leaving China.

 

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imron
7 hours ago, Tøsen said:

Over the last few months I have noticed it being much harder to transfer money to China from abroad

This is true.  It used to be quite easy and there were several businesses that did transfers.  They have now mostly closed (at least the ones I used in Australia).

 

After much investigation and messing about with various transfer services that all claimed they could do it, but then couldn't, I eventually settled on a relatively fool proof method - I transfer $X Australian dollars to my Chinese friend's Australian bank account, and he transfers the equivalent RMB to my Chinese bank account.  This is not only faster than previous methods, but also cheaper, so win win for me, but it only works if you have local Chinese friends.

 

14 hours ago, LiMo said:

will I be able to keep using my Alipay and Wechat accounts for online payment

I can't answer for these, but I can still use my ICBC bank account some 10 years after leaving China (though I've been back visiting at various times).  There was a period of about a year when I was unable to use it because the security dongle I was using expired and I needed to visit a bank in person to replace it.  Other than that, it's been smooth sailing.

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LiMo

Thanks for the prompt and detailed replies everyone. There's both good news and bad news sprinkled in there. I hope I have the energy to get to a phone shop to check my plan before I leave. At any rate, I may follow Imron's example and make use of my Chinese friends, although I only have perhaps one who I know well enough to trust with this. 

 

On the bright side, if wechat now accepts international credit cards, a liberal step, then perhaps there's still hope for other services like Alipay and Taobao (don't worry I'm not holding my breath).

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Wippen (inactive)
21 minutes ago, LiMo said:

I may follow Imron's example and make use of my Chinese friends, although I only have perhaps one who I know well enough to trust with this

Would you return the favour if he asked you to do the same for him outside China?

 

I had a really good friend asking me if she may use my address ie register at my address after she left the country. I wasnt too keen. I probably would have done it but luckily the problem was solved when she married her Western boyfriend.

 

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889

"I hope I have the energy to get to a phone shop to check my plan before I leave."

 

With China Mobile, you can check online whether your number has been opened for international roaming. If not, you can also open roaming online. So long as you've completed real-name registration, there no longer seems to be a requirement to make a deposit or pre-payment to open roaming.

 

I assume the other operators have similar procedures.

 

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imron
1 hour ago, Tøsen said:

Would you return the favour if he asked you to do the same for him outside China?

Sure, but note that depositing money is less of a hassle/issue than having someone fake their residence at your place.  That being said, I have let Chinese friends have things delivered to my address on their behalf, and I have no problem with that. 

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LiMo

@Tøsen

Yes quite possibly. The thing is I don't have internet banking so it wouldn't be as easy for me to check my account, it would be annoying to keep thinking I was sending myself money when I was actually just filling someone elses pockets. I suppose I could ask for a screenshot of the successful transfer maybe.

 

I'd let people get packages sent to my house but beyond that I wouldn't let them use my house as their "place of residence" for anything more serious.

 

@899

Ah, that's excellent news. I've been on the website before but I got a headache and left without checking just how much I could get done there. This is will be extremely useful.

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889

The China Mobile website will indeed give you a headache. You might find it easier to use an SMS code to open up roaming. First send 10086 an SMS along the lines of "怎么开国际漫游?" and then follow the instructions you get back.

 

By the way, before leaving China I would certainly get internet banking not just opened, but working. Depending on your bank, online banking can be very difficult to set up.

 

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Wippen (inactive)
On Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 8:12 AM, imron said:

there were several businesses that did transfers.  They have now mostly closed (at least the ones I used in Austra

Today I had another similar problem. Our company transferred 150 Euro to a Beijing based translator. We transferred the money but the bank refused to give it to him. My emails showing I had contracted him was not enough proof. They wanted to see a contract, but no one in Europe will do a contract for such a small amount. They returned the money to us without me having time to react. This is the third supplier. They incidents were unrelated  and they were all three done by different companies.  Something  going on there.

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889

Did you get a formal invoice from your translator and supply that?

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Wippen (inactive)

@889

 

Yes, a formal invoice that fitted all of the criteria of a EU bill , invoice number, tax number, date of work, detailed description of work , address.....

 

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