Living in China, my purse was usually stuffed with wads of cash. Sadly, not because I was super rich but because I couldn’t use my non-Chinese credit cards in any stores other than those western brands like H & M and Zara (Oh dear, you feel my pain right?). And opening a bank account in China was like pulling teeth, so cash it was all the way.
Counterfeit money is a huge problem (almost every cashier slides your notes through a scanner) so the biggest note made in China is 100RMB – which is equivalent to about US$14 – so you can imagine, this makes your wallet even fatter!
Mind you, I wasn’t alone in my cash stashing ways; as the first country to introduce paper money in the 11th century, most of the Chinese population have long been cash converts, renowned for carrying briefcases full of cash to buy everything from jewellery to cars, even houses!
A few years ago, the New York Times reported a guy showing up to a dealership in China in a beat-up old Honda carrying a black rubbish bag stuffed with cash. He bought a brand new BMW with it. In Xi’an, I heard about stories like this all the time!
But it seems that’s all changing…with China on track to become the first cashless society!
What does that mean and how does that even work?
Guest writer, my dear friend and local Chinese, Chao Huang from Xi’an, gives us the low down!
Alibaba’s Alipay digital wallet has been around since 2004 and easily trounced its US counterpart PayPal. The Alipay Wallet, currently sees 80 million transactions a day.
The company has cooperated with a growing number of wet markets selling fruit and veggies, to install a QR code at each stall.
What’s a QR code? It’s a Quick Response code which is a two dimensional barcode with a random pattern of tiny black squares against a white background, capable of holding 300 times more data than a traditional one-dimensional code.
Shoppers scan the code with their phones after selecting their goods.
The days of plastic buckets and polystyrene boxes filled with cash, lining the pavements are truly on their way out.