Nov 7, 2019 - World

Alipay provides foreigners tool to navigate an increasingly cashless China

A map showing the flow of the subject.
Screenshot via @Alipay/Twitter

China has rapidly become one of the most cashless countries in the world. That's a big problem for foreigners who don't have a Chinese bank account, because outside the major tourist hubs few merchants accept credit cards.

The big picture: Two private payments systems dominate the Chinese market: Alipay and WeChat. But until now, you had to have a Chinese bank account in order to be able to use either of them.

What's new: Alipay has now managed to find a way of allowing foreigners to use its service. It's a bit convoluted, and involves using your passport and visa to open a new prepaid account at the Bank of Shanghai, but it's one step toward bringing the world's major payment systems a bit closer together.

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