Shaun Rein at the WSJ Tech Live

Alipay and WeChat, China’s largest payment options, opened their services for foreign credit card holders, and it was about time too, says Shanghai-based business analyst Shaun Rein, author of the bestseller The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from New World Order to the South China Morning Post.

The South China Morning Post:

“A lot of restaurants now in China now only accept Alipay or WeChat Pay, and so the problem is you can’t go and eat in a lot of restaurants you want to go to,” said Shaun Rein, founder of the China Market Research Group and author of “The War for China’s Wallet.”

“The other thing that foreigners complain about is that it’s very difficult for them to book taxis or to arrange for tickets, like at the Forbidden City and a lot of national attractions.”

Unlike in the West, China’s consumers leapfrogged credit cards and have gone straight from cash to smartphones. One reason is that Chinese apps have embraced the QR code — a far simpler, cheaper and more accessible payment method compared to NFC, adopted by Western apps like Apple Pay…

“A lot of supermarkets might have one cash-only counter — very often they never even open it — or you might have a hundred people over the age of 70 standing in line trying to buy items because they don’t know how to use a mobile phone,” said Rein…

Rein… thinks privacy concerns won’t stop foreigners from using these apps in China, where alternatives like Apple Pay are far less popular.

“When they’re in China, if they don’t have the apps, they can’t function,” he said. “So the convenience of it outweighs any privacy concerns. And that’s what you’re seeing with mainland Chinese consumers as well.”

“Alibaba and Tencent have way too much data on every individual mainlander. They know exactly where we’re traveling, what we’re buying, who we’re going with, what we’re watching… But mainlanders still use [the apps] because of the convenience. And I expect that foreigners are going to do the same once they’re in China.”

More at the South China Morning Post.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more experts on China’s digital transformation? Do check out this list.


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