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Jan Finster

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

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mungouk
14 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

I know several guys who just refuse to [...] use a chinese bank account

 

If I don't then I won't get paid.  #incentive

 

 

15 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

I have two broken subway cards  with around 100kuai on each.

 

If you have an iPhone with Apple wallet on it, you can transfer the balance to a "virtual" subway card apparently and then just use your phone. 

 

If you don't have iOS maybe you could pass the cards onto a mate who does?

 

 

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ChTTay

Came to this one late...

 

889 is dead right, sort out your wechat and Alipay accounts completely (verify yada yada) and don’t even both trying to use them until it’s done. You need everything linked and verified in China. Foreign cards or balance won’t help you until it’s done. If you can’t switch your wechat just forget that one and get a new China based account. You can just add your friends again and leave the Singapore one (unless absolutely needed for some reason). 

 

I definitely wouldn’t say Beijing is awash with 100 notes. Mostly because I haven’t carried any cash for at least 12 months. You can pay for literally every everyday thing with wechat pay or Alipay. I don’t know anyone who carries cash anymore on a regular basis. I stopped using a wallet 2 years ago when I downsized to a cardholder. Even that gets left at home these days. 

 

You can top up your subway card within the app using all major payment methods (wechat, Alipay, Chinese bank card) and one or two others. Definitely just link the card to the App and then leave the card at home somewhere safe. 

 

@mungouk Does your work require you to use a specific bank? If it’s not Bank of China you could set up an account there anyway. They tend to be quite good at things like international transfers. Also, if you’re likely to have a lot of money in your bank account, you might consider having two accounts. One where the majority of your money and that isn’t linked to Alipay/wechat pay. Then another account that is linked. That one you just transfer the cash you’ll need that month into. This way you won’t need to worry so much if you lose your phone or some other event happens. Many more cautious Chinese people do this and most foreigners I know as well. 

 

To answer your topic title question though, being in China for short stays really isn’t so convenient as so much “life” is cashless now. If you’ve only got cash you’re a minority and will find it hard to partake in a lot of the convenient things here. 

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DavyJonesLocker
4 hours ago, ChTTay said:

This way you won’t need to worry so much if you lose your phone or some other event happens. Many more cautious Chinese people do this and most foreigners I know as well. 

 

However you can set daily limits on your linked accounts in the event of loss of phone. In any case is there any difference that having you debit and credit card stolen in your home country.? You still need a pin for wechat/alipay if payment is large. However I can't quite work out why some places need it always and others don't even though I use both payment methods regularly in the same / store restaurant.

 

I'd say there are only 2 reasons I use cash over card, that is at a toll gate and gas station. Saves me getting out of the car and going inside to pay by wechat. 

 

Finally I presume regular buses still use cash and travel card? No facility for mobile pay at the moment? Haven't taken one in 6 months I reckon

 

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ChTTay

It’s more that you’re a foreigner in China. I feel it’s just more straight forward to have two accounts. The one linked to an wechat  with not that much money in it wouldn’t cause a MASSIVE panic if you lost the card or your phone. 

 

Thats my personal preference though and, it seems, many other people’s. 

 

You’re right that it’s similar to losing a bank card in the U.K. I don’t generally

carry a card with my savings in though. I also know when I call the bank we’ll be speaking my native language. 

 

Yeah, if I took the bus I’d still carry my transport card with me. No reason for for me to take a bus out in Shunyi though. 

 

I did need cash to top up my water card the other day as I don’t have an account at the only bank  I can top up with. 

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, ChTTay said:

It’s more that you’re a foreigner in China. I feel it’s just more straight forward to have two accounts. The one linked to an wechat  with not that much money in it wouldn’t cause a MASSIVE panic if you lost the card or your phone. 

 

 

Sounds sensible, I was just wondering was I missing anything as I usually find these things out after the fact!

 

(As in stranded in the outskirts in Beijing at 2am drunk and couldn't use didi because the have a new rule where you need to enter another phone number for safety, which I misread as entering my own phone number ) 

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mungouk
On 5/11/2019 at 10:19 AM, DavyJonesLocker said:

Finally I presume regular buses still use cash and travel card?

 

I've seen people paying with their phone on the bus here in the last few days (tapping it on the card reader), and the video screens on the buses show people doing this too. 

 

Presumably this must be NFC though, as there's no camera I could see for scanning barcodes/QR codes, unlike in the 地铁站.

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Really that's great. Good to know

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mungouk

The readers also seem to be enabled for Apple Pay, at least on the 地铁. I haven’t tried linking a credit card to it, but sometimes my phone responds to the reader.

 

D695B44A-ED8F-47E1-AF7F-5BB4AEF4D923.thumb.jpeg.52bc3531540ba2d1f8371e522b825f4e.jpeg

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mungouk

OK I got my residence permit today (woohoo!) and therefore got my passport back, so my HR person and I scuttled off to the ICBC branch nearest to our office to open an account.

 

After a bit of form-filling and a fair bit of waiting around I got a debit/ATM card (for a 5 RMB charge), and was hoping to pay some money into the account but according to the bank person there's a new policy that they have to check foreigners out first (police/whatever) before they can accept any deposits.  I'm told this will take up to 7 working days.

 

HOWEVER, I was able to use the card to do the "real name" authentication discussed earlier, which means I now have a working Alipay account!  Or at least I managed to buy some beers with it from a convenience store earlier, so I guess it's working fine.  (I had money in the Alipay account because a friend sent it to me last week, after I gave her some cash.)

 

WeChat pay is another question though... when putting in all my card, phone, passport details etc it allowed me to put "Beijing, Chaoyang" in region, but in the drop-down for country China wasn't listed. I've realised this WeChat account is registered with my UK phone number.

 

EDIT: This problem of China missing from the drop-down list is now solved.

 

I tried again to change my number on the app to my new PRC +86 mobile number, and this time got a bunch of serious-looking messages and T&Cs... (click for larger images)

 

IMG_2756.thumb.PNG.6eaf061d30c4820ebb2a335fd11a5e85.PNG IMG_2757.thumb.PNG.aafedac9efaf99b5cfa806e3c3acaa08.PNG

 

 

I will think about this again when I have more brain-space.  I've copied and saved all the T&Cs if anyone really wants to read them in detail.

 

Onwards and upwards... slowly!

 

 

 

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889

To repeat, forget about changing the phone number on your existing Wechat account! Start from scratch with a new account.

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mungouk
26 minutes ago, 889 said:

Start from scratch with a new account.

 

This would be a major major headache.  I'm using it heavily for work and am in several large and important groups... plus I have ongoing chats with real-estate agents and friends I wouldn't want to lose.

 

Or is it possible to use the backup and restore feature to put everything back exactly as it was after creating a fresh account?  Sounds risky.

 

 

 

 

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889

You don't have a dual sim-card phone?

 

And let's assume you can switch your existing account to a Chinese number. What about switching back to a UK number when you leave China?

 

A cheap second-hand throw-away phone may well be the path of least resistance.

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Flickserve
2 hours ago, mungouk said:

I'm using it heavily for work and am in several large and important groups... plus I have ongoing chats with real-estate agents and friends I wouldn't want to lose.

 

You create a second wechat account that you can use for payment. And keep your original one for your important groups and whatever.

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mungouk

OK, thanks for the pointers guys... I do have an old spare phone I'm using to keep my UK SIM alive, but it tends to sit at home as the battery is on the way out.

 

Looking again at WeChat (v7.0.4) on my single-SIM iPhone, under settings there does seem to be an option to add/switch to another account, so I'll give that a try.  If it works it would certainly be the best combination of convenient and low-risk I think.  (I've already had one WeChat account frozen a few months back and had to start again with contacts etc...)

 

As of today I'm already onto the next task... viewing apartments.  😕 Wish me luck.

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DavyJonesLocker

might have missed it bit what's the issue with changing phone number? Must have done before right by the Chinese ?

 

Is it because you set it up abroad?

 

If it were me I'd be tempted to get it done right , rather than face the hassle down the road when you start linking in all sorts of programs and they are asking for   confirmation by text. This happens a lot.

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mungouk

I set up this particular WeChat account using my UK mobile number, and (presumably) because of this I can't complete the real-name authentication with my Chinese bank card, because the user interface doesn't provide China as an option for location in the list of countries.

 

Therefore, no WeChat pay.  Yet. :) 

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DavyJonesLocker

So can't you first download wechat in China, log in,  back up contacts etc use pc too, change mobile number to a Chinese one, then do the all procedure with your bank account verification for wechat pay. 

 

That's what I did years ago but I probably didn't use a phone number back then , might have been QQ, email or something back then as my user name is a name and not a phone number as you often see now.

There things change to frequently it's hard to keep up!

 

The idea of 2 chat accounts seems like a good one. Last night my wechat locked me out and a warning came up about a complaint about me or something. Had to do facial log in, text verification and something else.

Looks like someone has an axe to grind. Mystery is who! The list could well be long haha 

 

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mungouk

Well the other obstacle on the road to cashless nirvana is that I can’t change my App Store to China right now... I had an Apple Music subscription which prevents you from changing store apparently.

 

so I cancelled it but it won’t actually expire until 25 May, which is when it’s paid up until. So I can’t change to the China App Store until then...

 

the best thing about digital technology is all the convenience and time it saves, of course...

 

 

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mungouk
On 5/15/2019 at 8:04 PM, mungouk said:

WeChat pay is another question though... when putting in all my card, phone, passport details etc it allowed me to put "Beijing, Chaoyang" in region, but in the drop-down for country China wasn't listed.

 

OK, mystery solved. Details below.

 

I created a second WeChat account on the same phone (single-SIM) as follows.

  • log out
  • from the login screen choose “more options” at the bottom
  • choose “sign up” to create new account and verify using the OTP sent by SMS

After I did this the second account is now associated with my +86 PRC mobile phone number, which is the SIM I'm currently using in this phone.

 

To switch between accounts, you just then need to choose me > settings > switch account.

 

btw I still have the UK SIM I used to create my first account, and am able to switch between the accounts without having to change SIMs.  (If you logout you need to log back in again, but the software let me do this with a password or voiceprint rather than insisting on sending an OTP.)

 

This time, when logging in to the new account registered with the Chinese number, I saw the WeChat Pay option on the start screen — this wasn't present before on my original account.

 

57F7F062-9156-481A-A54A-8D1983925A18.thumb.jpeg.ad64ee24e5d3227699c7a6e8581b2ca7.jpeg

 

Hooray!

 

From there I went into Wallet (I think) and did the real name authentication by adding bank card (you can take photo of it), full name exactly as spelled on bank records — including upper/lower case, phone number, passport number etc. 

 

However.

 

For those using WeChat with their phone set to English there's a nasty gotcha here which one of my wonderful HR ladies found: it asks you for region, so I put in Beijing, Chaoyang, but then there's an input field for COUNTRY and the usual drop-down list of countries.  But China isn't in there.  By looking at the same screen but with the phone's language set to Chinese we discovered that this is a mis-translation, and it should say NATIONALITY.  Once we'd set this to 英国 it was accepted and I was good to go.

 

Almost. 

 

The first time I tried to make a payment by scanning a QR code ANOTHER verification screen came up, asking for more details, including name and phone number again, address in China (I used our office address in hanzi), and requiring you to take a picture of yourself and your passport and upload it.  This took a few attempts for no apparent reason — it kept saying my phone number was incorrect or something even though it wasn't (error message all in Chinese) but we tried multiple times and eventually it went through.  

 

(Needless to say, you really don't want to be doing all of this while standing at the front of a supermarket queue. Fortunately I was determined to get all this working while still in the office, and we have a WeChat QR code on the wall that we use to pay for lunch, so that was a useful way to test it.)

 

So now I finally have WeChat pay working although as with my AliPay account, until my new bank account is approved next week and I'm able to deposit funds in there, I still don't have any way of topping it up except handing cash to a friend or colleague and asking them to send me a 红包.  

 

(btw Alipay was much easier to set up than this and didn't require this additional verification step with the passport pic etc.)

 

Take-aways from this:

  • You don't need a dual SIM phone to have 2 WeChat accounts on one phone, at least you don't on my version (v7.0.4 on iOS 12.2).
  • You don't need to download the WeChat app from the Chinese version of the iOS app store — mine came from the UK app store, as did my AliPay and Mobike apps (tested and working fine; my Mobike is linked to a Singapore debit card and mobile number btw).

 

And, to answer @Jan Finster's original question at the top of this thread, it really does look as if tourists and short-term visitors won't be able to use these apps for payment unless they have a Chinese bank card they can use to complete the real-name authentication process.  You can link foreign cards, sure, but you won't be able to do anything with them until the real-name authentication is done.

 

One thing I'm still confused about is this. When I got the bank card a couple of days ago we also went through this process of trying to do real-name authentication but with my original WeChat account (when I still only had one).  But despite searching like crazy I wasn't able to find any way of getting a prompt for this in that account today.

 

I'm not sure, but the best explanation I have for this is that my colleague had sent me a ¥1 红包 which then triggered the authentication process — I'm told you had to do this in the past.  I'm not sure if you still do. 

 

EDIT: Yes, I just tried it, and sending a ¥1 红包 to my older account triggered the real-name authentication process. Accepting the  红包 resulted in the "WeChat Pay" menu option appearing on the homescreen of this account. However, I still needed to give my Chinese phone-number as part of this, as it's the number registered with my mainland bank-card.

 

Hope this helps!  Of course all of this will probably be out of date in 2-3 months from now...

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