Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cashless China's Obsession on Barcode / QR Code Payments

Paying by cash or by Chinese Yuan (RMB) money is slowly going extinct in China. This is for real.


You can see the blue and green barcode / QR codes for payment scanning.

Personally, I cannot be bothered having cash with me. I have always preferred to pay via card. Not credit card but a debit card. I believe the Netherlands is one of the major cashless societies in the world. You can say I am a perfect example of a cashless citizen. I only have cash money with me when I travel abroad, for just-in-case situations you know.

However, my experience in China proved to be in a different league. Firstly, card payment has never become mainstream in China. Instead, the country is obsessed with paying by smartphone through QR codes.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]


Can you spot the QR / barcode?

In China, most of the locals in the greater cities settle their payments with their smartphones. These can be for items purchased in a store, a bus or train card, a dinner in a restaurant or a ticket to attend a show. Simply by scanning the barcode (which is a QR code) of the item or service they are purchasing through their smartphone, and voila, the payment is done and has through.

I first noticed the cashless situation in China when I visited Xiamen the other year.

During my flight from Amsterdam to Shanghai last April, I met a Shanghainese lady who has been living and working in the Netherlands about the same time as I have (16 years). She told me that she always painstakingly experience culture shock every time she goes home. Especially when she does the local errands such as shopping for food and paying for something mundane.

Everyone she knows in Shanghai pay with their smartphones and her family and friends laughs at her when she pays cash.

She really felt like she has been left behind with the times. Paying in cash is just not done anymore. Moreover, paying with a card is perceived as very backward. Only tourists do it!

Oh dear me, so I am backward, haha. And I thought cashless society Netherlands is very forward with the wifi payments. Wifi payments work by just tapping your debit/credit card on the payment reader without having to type in your PIN, which is very common in the Netherlands (and I noticed in New Zealand as well when I was there).

Well, I guess China is light years ahead in the online payment revolution. Thanks to Alipay and Tenpay for making all these possible. You might have heard the big Chinese companies behind them, Alibaba and Tencent.

Here are some interesting articles to read about the online payment phenomenon in China:


Indeed, China has revolutionised online payment. Even the street food vendor selling deep fried chicken fritters accepts online (barcode aka QR code) payments. All you need is a smartphone to pay. Just scan the code and then show it to the vendor for evidence that you have paid and you are good to wait for your order. Easy peasy!

There is nothing conventional about China these days. The country is a conundrum. You have to visit soon to experience it yourself.


Cash is going extinct in major cities in China. It is mostly the tourists who use them.

In the below picture you will find a street food vendor selling deep fried chicken fritters. I found her just outside my hotel in Zhabei. This is near Shanghai Railway Station.

I had a little craving for something fatty (don't we all do?), so I lined up to order and paid with my cash - 10 Chinese Yuan (or RMB 10). But the locals behind me were busy scanning the barcodes posted on the front side of her food cart. After which they showed their smartphones to the lady vendor and she went on to cook their order.

Well, I indeed felt a bit backward after witnessing that, haha.


The barcodes / QR codes.


The oily chicken fritters I ordered. Delicious, but this was enough for the whole stay in Shanghai. I was immediately cured of my fatty cravings! Haha


You can spot the barcode / QR code on the lower right-hand side of the picture.


You just need to scan the barcode / QR code (see on top of the window) to pay.

Travel Period: April 2018
Destination: Shanghai, China

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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