How to set up an International Digital Wallet in China?

Author: Benelux Chamber Shanghai

Jonathan Xu
By Jonathan Xu
Director of Business Operations and Marketing

SHANGHAI (THE BENELUX CHAMBER OF COMMERCE) - With Benelux executives travelling to China again, many are running into an unforeseen practical problem: how to pay for petty expenses as taxis or subway rides or other small transactions for which credit cards are not accepted and cash is no longer a common means of payment. Indeed, China has resolutely moved to a cashless society as electronic payment modes using mobile phone apps, either Alibaba’s ‘AliPay’ or Tencent’s ‘WeChat Pay’, has almost become the universal form of payment in Mainland China. Of course cash  is still a valid currency but many shops or for instance taxi drivers will not keep enough cash on hand to return your change. 

Both AliPay and WeChat Pay are third party apps that are now the mainstream payment method in Mainland China. Both apps allow international users to add their international credit cards to the digital wallets included under the apps. You will be required to verify your identity (by scanning your passport page) and will then be allowed to add a international credit card to your account on the app. Every time you wish to pay the app will generate a QR code  which will allow you to pay your bill in 99% of the restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, etc. all around Mainland China. 

Below is the step-by-step guide to set up your AliPay account with a foreign mobile phone number and connect it to your international credit card. 

 Step by step

This article was created with the support of DaWo Law Firm Shanghai. DaWo is a registered and fully licensed PRC law firm with a global background. Based in Shanghai, its clients hail from all over the world, and they rely on its internationally-trained lawyers and associates for expert, effective legal assistance in China. DaWo is big enough to make a real difference for your business, but small enough that you know they really care.