Why Alipay is important when you live in China


With the pace of fast-growing technology and mobility in the world, the payment options have become less time consuming. WeChat Pay 微信支付 and AliPay 支付寶申請are the leading mobile payment methods in China with more than respectively 600,000 million and 400,000 million users every month.


AliPay is the second leading mobile payment method in China after WeChat. It belongs to Alibaba group and was initially created as a safe online payment method for Taobao customers. Later the functionality of the Alipay developed further and now you can:

– Pay for online shopping platforms, including Taobao and Tmall

– Transfer money (international not available for foreigners)

– Pay for taxi service

– Pay mobile bills

– Pay electricity, central heating, water bills

– Pay food ordering platforms

– Pay for tickets be it for cinema, theater, train and even the airplane.

– Get mobile charging pod


How to get started:

Before you apply, please note that you can apply on the website and phone application. We strongly advise you to apply on the phone application. It has English and is a much easier process.

You will need:

• Alipay application on your phone, go to our app store and search for Alipay

• Your passport number

• Chinese phone number

• Chinese bank account

After downloading the app, you should choose the language and sign up. It will ask for your phone number and send a 4-digit verification code right away.

Next you will have to choose your country of citizenship from the menu:

Please note that some countries are not listed in the menu. Do not panic; just choose another country and all should work just as well.

Next you have to enter your identity information: country, name, ID type and ID number.

Afterwards you have to provide your bank card details. When you fill out the bank card information a window will open with card information. It will ask for your name again, ID type, ID number and phone number. All of this information must be the same as in your bank documents to properly bind the card to your AliPay account.


To allow transactions over 5000 yuan with Alipay, you must get a verified account using passport authentication. You need to take the photo of your passport and send it for verification. It takes about 24 hours to get the passport verification from AliPay.

Go to Me -> Click on your Name -> Identity Verification

 Once you get your passport information verified, you can easily enjoy the benefits of shopping within the limit of your banking card.


One of the drawbacks of AliPay is the lack of a complete English version. Even though it offers you the choice to change, the sub-menus are not fully available in English.

Money Services: ‘Scan’ is to be used on qrcodes, ‘Pay’ is mostly for paying at shops, and ‘Collect’ is used when receiving money.

Taobao: You can also use your Alipay account to login to Taobao. You can either scan the qrcode to enter www.taobao.com or use your login/password on the Taobao app.

Aliyun: You can enter the Aliyun ecosystem using your Alipay account (qrcode or credentials).

Utilities: In Alipay go to more -> Utilities -> then choose the utility you want to pay:






固话(Fixed Telephone)


Please note that the whole city may not covered by all these services and electricity will work only if you have updated your electric meter to the next generation of 智能表, water, gas, and others will work only with compatible suppliers.

And the first-time process may not be that smooth, because you will have to choose between water, heating, gas companies, so it is better to do it with your landlord when you check in into your apartment. But in the future Alipay does save your preferences for the next time.

Buses: go to City Service, 公交电子客票, accept conditions but you will need to find a Chinese ID card to enjoy the service.

Subway for that one you may want to have a look at WeChat and copy paste: 天津轨道交通微服务 and follow that account to purchase your subway ticket. It is a very smooth, 3 click process.

Transport card: Now everyone can apply for a nationwide buses and subway card with alipay. You can apply in major subway station, just seek the green machine near the normal token dispenser.   

Zhima Credit: these credits are given to you for good usage of the service, their main use for now are: zhima credit contest with friends! Get a mobile charging device without paying deposit, and basically other non-deposit services. But their use may impact your life deeper in a near future. Note they are not the China Social Credit System, but may be used by it in the future.


Can you pay abroad using Alipay? NO! Unless your bank account is verified with a Chinese ID card.

Transaction in currencies other than RMB are not available to foreigners. You cannot pay abroad for services on the internet when the receiver is not a Chinese vendor, nor can you make international transfers.

When planning your trips, please, remember that you cannot use WeChat or Alipay payment options when abroad anymore. Only Chinese citizens can.


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