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Which Chinese Payment App is King

Saying something is better than WeChat is a bold claim. Get ready to dive into both apps to see what is what and find out which payment app is king.

I was eating lunch with my friend and noticed he always pays with Alipay. I asked why, and he shrugged saying, “I think it’s better than WeChat Pay.”

Shots fired! How can another payment app be better than WeChat? I needed to know if this was true. For fairness, I am only comparing WeChat Pay to Alipay, and not WeChat itself.

Ease of Setup:

To set up WeChat Pay, simply select WeChat Pay on the “Me” tab in WeChat. Add your favorite Chinese bank card or international credit card, provide your name and you are off to the races. It is easy, but problems for expats are common, so your mileage may vary. Alipay, on the other hand, has so many Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering certification checks that it can take weeks to get fully verified and unlock the full potential of the app. Not a strong start for Alipay.

Winner—WeChat Pay

 

Accepted Locations:

Alipay is generally accepted wherever WeChat Pay is accepted, which is everywhere, except for one key holdout: Taobao, the largest online shopping platform in China. You cannot use WeChat Pay on Taobao, Alipay is the only game in town.

Winner—Alipay

 

Financial Tracking:

Face it, with such convenient payment methods, you are going to be tempted by some reckless spending. Luckily, both apps have you covered by providing you with a full transaction history. WeChat Pay provides a monthly bar graph, but Alipay goes the extra mile with an extremely detailed finance tracker, automatically sorting your expenses in various categories, such as food, bills and shopping.

Winner—Alipay

 

The Verdict:

Both of these apps are extremely powerful and likely to enrich the lives of their users.

So, should you stop using WeChat Pay and become an Alipay maximalist? Alipay seems to hold an edge, and the market agrees. As of 2019 Alipay had 53 percent of the mobile payments market in China and boasts a nicer interface and numerous advantages. While it is unlikely Alipay will be able to completely replace WeChat Pay, it is worth adding to your phone and your life.