For the first time in China earlier this year, Huong Giang surprised and confused employees at a supermarket near the school by paying cash.
Truong Thi Huong Giang, 21, went to China in February to study in the first year of the Department of International Chinese Education at Beijing Language University on a full scholarship program. One of his first impressions when he arrived in Beijing was the almost penniless life here.
In China, all activities like taking the bus, train, shopping in supermarkets use QR codes to pay via Alipay. Due to the new arrival, not having time to make a bank card or register for the Alipay app, Giang still uses cash to go to the supermarket.
“When I saw that I was paying in cash, the supermarket cashier looked surprised and struggled for a long time to find change to return it,” student Hai Duong told VnExpress.
Huong Giang uses a QR code to pay at a supermarket in Beijing, China. Photo: Character provided
According to a 2021 report by the China Payments Association, scanning QR codes is the most frequently used payment method in the country, with 95.7% of people using mobile payments. The report said that nearly 53% of passengers use QR codes to pay for bus or metro tickets, while the percentage using prepaid transport cards or cash is gradually decreasing.
The Chinese pay by scanning QR codes an average of three times a day. People from the generation born after 1995 use mobile payments more frequently, particularly men, with an average of 4 times a day.
Wang Yu, senior director of the risk control department at UnionPay, China’s state-owned financial services group, said that convenience is the main reason why people choose mobile payments, followed by habits and ways of promotion.
Huong Giang said that supermarkets in China still accept cash payments, but very few people use them now. Most grocery shoppers scan the item codes they choose at the ATM, then manipulate the screen to transfer and receive electronic invoices without the need for a cashier. The supermarket cashier is mainly to support the elderly, foreigners who do not know how to pay with QR codes.
Vietnamese student talks about life without money in China
Huong Giang uses a QR code to pay with an automated cash register at a mall in Beijing on May 13. Video: Characters Provided
Therefore, Huong Giang said that smartphones have become “an inseparable object” in China, because almost every activity requires a phone to scan a QR code.
“At school, he scans the phone to scan the registration code, registers, buys water, buys things at the counter. Goes out, uses the phone to scan the bicycle code, pays for bus and subway fares”, he said.
To use the metro, passengers must scan a QR code when passing through security. When they arrive, they scan the code on the door again, let the app calculate the distance traveled and deduct the money. Huong Giang said that she was quite surprised at first, but after she got used to it, she felt that this payment method was “extremely convenient”.
Le Khanh Linh, 24, a third-year student majoring in Chinese, Huazhong Normal University, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, said she is no longer familiar with the cashless payment system when traveling, grocery shopping or using public transport.
Vietnamese student surprised cashier at Chinese supermarket
Khanh Linh uses a cell phone to pay QR codes to ride the subway and rent a bicycle in Wuhan city, Hubei province, May 14. Video: Characters Provided
Khanh Linh said that subway fares in China are calculated by the number of kilometers, with the cost much cheaper than other modes of transportation. On a subway ride from Huazhong Normal University to picturesque Huang Hec Lou, it took 10 stops, with a total fee of about 4 yuan (13,500 VND).
Passengers have many payment methods, such as buying monthly cards, buying tickets at each station, or paying by scanning QR codes through Alipay and WeChat apps. Khanh Linh chooses QR code scanning because of its convenience and security.
“We hope that public transport in Vietnam will also develop quickly, giving people more options and no need to use cash when paying,” she said.
Khanh Linh at Hoang Hac Lau, a famous scenic spot in Wuhan city, on May 12. Photo: Character provided