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Imagine yourself this scene - You're having some troubles with your toilet and you have no choice but to call the plumber. The plumber arrives and fixes the problem. You examine his work and it seems that you're satisfied with the results (you even take the toilet for a "test drive" after eating your favorite Hummus and broad bean dish). It's time to pay the bill. The plumber tells you it's just 35$ because he's feeling happy that day and he likes you. You say no problem and reach to your jeans' back pocket for your wallet. Suddenly, you realize that you forgot to withdraw money - DAMN! that always happens.
Well, if you're in China it's not a big deal!
You see, this kind of situation actually happened to me here in China, and the plumber's response was "no worries man, just send me the money via Wechat Wallet" (-of course it was in Chinese… China after all…). That situation got me to realize something — China truly is an E—commerce superpower, a place where even the simple daily things become an E—commerce transaction. After all, when was the last time you paid your plumber, hairdresser or vegetable seller via PayPal? In China, that's the norm.
That's truly a surprising fact when thinking of a country like China, which is still, even if only officially, Communist. The Chinese economy is skyrocketing for years. If you think about it, when even your plumber is paying via E—wallet that's probably something everyone should take into consideration, and realize the big opportunity. China wasn't the pioneer in the E—wallet market but it surely is the one who took it to a whole new level.
Basically, there are 2 dominant E—wallets and several smaller providers. The most well known are "Wechat Wallet" and "AliPay". "Wechat Wallet" is basically a feature of an app called "WeChat". This app, some would argue, is the Chinese substitute for Facebook and WhatsApp combined. "Wechat Wallet" allows you to send money to your Wechat "friends", who of course can be your plumber or whoever you'd like to do business with. Pretty handy huh?! But you don't always have to add all mainland China to your friends list, many shops and businesses have a QR code stand on the cashier table that allows you to scan it and make your purchase. Wechat also allows you to book flights, call a taxi, book hotels and even "Go Dutch" when you're going to a restaurant with your friends and decide to split the bill! It doesn’t stop there. Many other, handier and less handy, features will wait for you on "Wechat Wallet".
AliPay (run by Alibaba) is basically the Chinese version of the worldwide PayPal. Like PayPal, it allows making online secured purchases. But it doesn't stop there. It can be also be used as an E-wallet and it's pretty widespread and basically, there is no significant difference from "Wechat Wallet". However, while Wechat is more like a social network wallet, Alipay has more financial, bank-like features. For example, Alipay allows having a savings plan and earn interest on your money with no commission and no minimum amount.
Although it seems like Alipay is more secured and somehow more "professional" than Wechat Wallet, most people still prefer to use Wechat Wallet, probably due to Wechat popularity, Which is used daily by over half a billion people in china, anytime, anywhere. Old habits die hard, I suppose.
Money has been present ever since the dawn of civilization, but it has changed it's form and system and evolved from time to time. From the days of barter to modern credit-based economy, Every time people needed to make a change, it made them feel anxious, and took some time until they got used to it (-just ask your parents how they felt when they used a card to withdraw money for the first time, instead of the familiar bank teller). The E—wallet is a relatively new thing. And in China, people are ready.
Don't miss out on your chance to take a part in tomorrow's economy - today.
Slava is an entrepreneur that has been living in China for the past two years. These days he has been working on a new project that might change the world of import! Stay tuned…