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Jan Finster

What is the best payment method for short-term stays?

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Lu
7 hours ago, 889 said:

You do the actual name verification online with Wechat/Alipay when you link your new Mainland bank card. With Wechat at least it should take just seconds. Note you absolutely must enter your name precisely as it's shown on the bank records. Upper-lowercase counts. Keep all those papers you get from the bank for reference.

See also how I did it here. I don't remember having to type my name into Wechat (fortunately, because my name is of a length that doesn't always fit Chinese forms). Once I had all the requirements (functional bank account and matching phone number) it was an easy process, took minutes.

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mungouk

Thanks @Lu.  I am already expecting hassle with WeChat as I registered the account with a UK mobile number, and now I'm here in BJ and have a Chinese number it won't let me change the registered number due to "local regulations".  

 

On AliPay however I'm still a 100% virgin so hopefully when I get a bank card with ICBC or similar next week I can get set up and will no longer be e-disenfranchised.

 

I greatly appreciate folk answering these common questions — looking back through the forums it's clear that these conditions change on a regular basis and it's almost impossible to be fully prepared for how to deal with this stuff!

 

 

EDIT: My WeChat account was registered originally with a UK number, not Singapore as originally stated.

 

 

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889

I'm sure you will find the process far easier if you open a new Wechat account in the Mainland with your Mainland number, and use that number of course to open your bank account.

 

So far as I know, both Wechat and Alipay install different versions of their apps, depending on the download location. You want to be certain you have the Mainland version.

 

As to serial numbers on bills, I've never see any counterfeit detecting app that uses them. But I've noticed that when you make a cash deposit at an ATM you can get a receipt showing all the serial numbers. For what purpose I don't know, except perhaps to remind you that if any of the bills turn out to be fake, they can be traced back to you. Your receipt from the money changer may serve the same purpose, as well as preventing an unscrupulous customer from switching in a counterfeit note and then claiming he received it from the money changer.

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Flickserve
13 hours ago, mungouk said:

Thanks @Lu.  I am already expecting hassle with WeChat as I registered the account with a Singapore mobile number, and now I'm here in BJ and have a Chinese number it won't let me change the registered number due to "local regulations". 

 

 

Get another phone. Register a new wechat account. 

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DavyJonesLocker

You can register 2 we chat accounts on some phones I see. My phone huawei is able to do it.

Not tried it so don't know what the limitations are ,I.e. we chat pay

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roddy

It reads to me like your Wechat account is both absolutely essential for every aspect of life in China, yet may have to be abandoned at any moment due to the vagaries of the banking system. I'm sure I'm just too old to understand. 

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mungouk
2 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

You can register 2 we chat accounts on some phones I see.

 

If you have a dual-SIM phone, yes, or so I'm told.  The number is tied to the SIM of course.

 

I just tried to add a second account on my current phone (single SIM iPhone) but it wouldn't let me.

 

This account is pretty important now because it's used heavily for work and I'm in some essential groups... looks like I'll be using AliPay for payments then.  No big deal.

 

 

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Lu
3 hours ago, roddy said:

It reads to me like your Wechat account is both absolutely essential for every aspect of life in China, yet may have to be abandoned at any moment due to the vagaries of the banking system. I'm sure I'm just too old to understand. 

Either too old or too foreign. This may be one of those things only Chinese can really grasp and foreigners just can't understand. (Tongue both in cheek and not in cheek.)

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mungouk

OK, in the spirit of sacrificing my personal embarrassment for the greater good, the field trials continue...

 

I met a Chinese friend for dinner last night and she transferred some RMB to my newly-opened Alipay account (about 2 days ago, iOS app downloaded from the UK App Store).

 

The money arrived in my account no problem, in about 1 second.  (Balance = “fortune”, huh.)

 

Test 1: Macdonalds at lunchtime.  Ordered via the big touchscreen and got as far as showing my barcode/QR code to the machine, but it failed with a message in Chinese (whereas the app is largely in English, at least down to 1 or 2 levels of menus).  #fail

 

Test 1b: tried paying at the counter instead using Alipay. Got a different error msg in Chinese.  Young server very keen to try and help, used a translation app on her phone to tell me “needs to bind foreign credit card to account”.  But I already connected a UK visa credit card yesterday, and still this didn’t work. #fail

 

Gave up and paid cash.

 

Test 2: forced myself to wander round 798 art district and go for a beer.  Tried paying at counter with Alipay.  App responded with yet another error message.  Tried again, got another different message.  #fail

 

Gave up and paid cash.

 

I’m beginning to suspect this isn’t going to work until I manage to get a Chinese bank card and connect that to the account, even though I have 400 kuai balance in the Alipay account.

 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Maybe we chat pay might have more success?

 

If you are staying in China any reasonable length of time , a Chinese back account is essential in my view, well it makes life a whole lot easier!. 

HSBC Chinese account is a good place to start if you have HSBC UK. Very recently you can add the debit card to wechat pay and alipay . Before we chat pay couldn't accept HSBC Chinese debit card. 

Also on the website you can use world view to see accounts simultaneously and transferring money is easy. 

 

However if you don't have HSBC then there are better Chinese accounts to use

 

Also as a general rule I would download all Chinese apps with a mainland app store. They are different. Years ago, we chat overseas didn't have the wechst pay facility. Not sure if this is still the case. 

 

Also do you have a Chinese phone number. Again an important consideration . A contract is good as it allows you to build 芝麻 credit which is useful for avoiding deposits on rent bike schemes , care hire etc

 

Finally "field trials" are essential ! Learned that from a great many "of but you have to do this" experiences  :)

 

 

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889

Don't waste your time trying to get QR payments to work on Alipay or Wechat until you've completed real-name verification with a Mainland bank card. It is hopeless.

 

As you discovered, even if you haven't completed real-name verification you can nonetheless bring up the payments screen on Alipay. Maybe it'll work! you think. But then comes that error screen telling you to complete real-name verification first.

 

The problem is that the cashier can't immediately cancel the Alipay payment when you try to switch to cash: she has to wait what seems like a couple of minutes till the attempted Alipay payment automatically times-out.

 

Meanwhile everyone waiting behind you is murmering about the clueless foreigner.

 

(I believe that unless you have Premier Banking at home, HSBC doesn't give you any extra consideration in China. I've also heard but don't know that they have moderately high minimum balance requirements in China. And if you have Wechat Pay working, you should be able to use Mobike without a deposit, or a postpaid SIM card.)

 

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mungouk

Exactly as you say @889, I tried once more in a large supermarket that would almost certainly have accepted the UK Visa card I have linked, and Alipay didn't work there either.  

 

So, bottom line appears to be that most of the "how to" stuff for short-term visitors/foreigners on using WeChat Pay or Alipay that's online, including using Swapsy, and asking a friend to top up your wallet, is no longer true due to the real-name verification requirement.

 

(Things do seem to change rapidly here, in terms of apps and fintech... e.g. my colleagues were suprised to learn that you can now  book a Didi from inside Alipay app without installing the Didi app.)

 

btw the Mobike app works fine with my Singapore Visa debit card. I've been using it quite a bit.  Seems like everything else will have to wait until I get a Chinese bank card next week.

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, 889 said:

(I believe that unless you have Premier Banking at home, HSBC doesn't give you any extra consideration in China. I've also heard but don't know that they have moderately high minimum balance requirements in China. And if you have Wechat Pay working, you should be able to use Mobike without a deposit, or a postpaid SIM card.)

 

No need for a minimum balence, my balence is always fairly low, and often a few hundred kuai

How do you avoid the deposit 889? i have a contract sim but still needed to pay the 300 deposit although have't used Mobike in about 1.5 years . I have a feeling i linked it to alipay them though

 

54 minutes ago, mungouk said:

btw the Mobike app works fine with my Singapore Visa debit card. I've been using it quite a bit.  Seems like everything else will have to wait until I get a Chinese bank card next week.

 

did you pay a deposit with it. I must download the app again and have a play around. I generally prefer hello now  

 

 

 

 

Edit, ok just checked, I see you can just use mobike directly through wechat mini programs. Nice, no need to install the app and no deposit it seems! Hard to keep up with all the developments! :wink: 

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mungouk
2 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

did you pay a deposit with it.

 

No, just loaded up some money (SGD 5) onto it and started using it.  It's showing my balance in Sing dollars and I verified my number with a Singapore SIM (before I lost the damn thing) but it still seems to be working fine with no deposit.  The app's UI is mostly in English for me.

 

I did notice today though that I tried to unlock one of the newer bikes and it came up with some message in Chinese talking about the APP and wouldn't unlock... I noticed the bike had 美团 something written on it, despite being in the usual MoBike colours. Did they recently merge with 美团-whatever the food delivery people or something?

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

edited my post mate, best you get a chinese bank account asap ;) I feel like an old person who can't keep up with technology as its changing so rapidly haha

 

I like the fact that you can do a lot with wechat and alipay internally not having to download a pile of other apps. I use didi through alipay now, 

 

 

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889

I had problems with OFO, many problems in fact, of which one was the inability of the international app to work with certain of the newer bike models. I suspect you have the same problem with Mobike.

 

As said before, this is why you need to install the domestic versions of your various apps.

 

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mungouk
7 minutes ago, 889 said:

As said before, this is why you need to install the domestic versions of your various apps.

 

 

Don't even get me started on the hassle I've had trying to change app store as well... :P 

 

btw I was told not to bother with OFO because they have just, or are about to, go bust.

 

I can't keep up with things in this town and I've only been here a week!

 

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889

I just mentioned OFO as a historical reference. But I did get my deposit back.

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DavyJonesLocker
26 minutes ago, mungouk said:

btw I was told not to bother with OFO because they have just, or are about to, go bust.

 

I can't keep up with things in this town and I've only been here a week!

 

 

Doing much better than me in my first week. You are at my one year month stage!

 

In your version of alipay, does it have all the 3rd party apps built it (like ofo?)

 

If I had to summarise all my years exoerience into one sentence it would be "ingrain yourself into chinese society, and they way they do things‘ It makes life so much easier. I know several guys who just refuse to use chinese apps (fear of virus) won't use a chinese bank account, kuadi,  and everything for them is hard.

 

(By the way  亿道行 is a great app for the subway, you can just scan the QR code and it takes it out of your alipay account automatically. I have two broken subway cards  with around 100kuai on each. I have to go to xidan tyo get it refunded which i can't be bothered. There are other apps that do the same apparently) 

 

 

 

 

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mungouk

Not sure what would count as “all”, but it had these below.

 

There are also lots of other options... it's a mini eco-system in there.  e.g. “share bike” brings up 3 systems including OFO, and “air & rail” hooks into Flying Pig 飞猪 etc.

 

I can’t find any way of telling what version of the app it is though. 

 

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