The Shanghai of today

For those who have the means, life is easy in Shanghai. You can do just about anything, eat anything you wish for, take whatever classes you could think off, you can basically have a full schedule day after day. And in order to do all that, you only need ONE THING when you get out of the house, and that is : your Smartphone!

So, you want to go out. The place you need to reach is a little bit far. You have (at least) 3 options:

  1. Rent a bike : take out your phone, scan the bike’s QR code and ride it! Don’t forget to lock it at your arrival! You’re being automatically charged.
  2. Take the subway : take out your phone, approach it to the reader and get in. Do it again when you get out of the station. What used to be called “Transportation card” is now in your phone’s Wallet.
  3. Take a Didi (Chinese Uber) : take you phone out, type the address you need to reach. The driver call you or writes a message to make sure of your whereabouts. He comes pick you up, drives you safely to your destination and the you say 再见goodbye and the amount is directly charged from your account.

Let’s say we go for a massage at Dragonfly’s. I forgot my member card at home! But no worries, they put in my mobile phone number and a text message is being sent to me instantly. I give them the code and that’s it.

Afterwards, I would like to buy some bread or dessert. And here is where “magic” begins to operate! As I said, I went out without my wallet, or cards, or cash. I only have my phone with me. I choose some bread and then the lady asks me how do I want to pay : ” 微信还是支付宝?” which means WeChat or AliPlay? If you have been living in China or Hong Kong you might know what she’s talking about. If not, let me explain briefly :

  • WeChat or WeiXin is a all in one app. Is like Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder and PayPal all together, and way more. With this App you can post pictures, chat with friends, send money to friends, edit pictures, translate from an image, shake it to find people near you and get in contact, top up your mobile phone, pay you bills, buy train tickets, book a hotel etc. You can use for just about anything you can think off. Isn’t life wonderful?!
  • AliPay or ZhiFuBao is the one I prefer for money related actions. You can pay, transfer to a bank card, collect money, top up your mobile, call a cab, order food etc.

I am not sure what image people tend to have of China, but things are certainly evolving way faster here right now than in any other part of the world.

So my day isn’t finished yet. I have to get back home, because I am waiting for in important “kuaidi” 快递 package delivery that I ordered on TaoBao 淘宝 (an e-commerce site I wish I would have back in Europe). I just ordered my “merchandise” yesterday, they said it would arrive around noon.

So I got back home, I haven’t had lunch yet, so I take my phone and order some food on WeChat or 饿了么 or Sherpa’s etc. I also paid it with my phone, no cash needed.

Both AliPay and WeChat started to be implemented around the world, but for now only Mainland China citizens can use these services outside China. Slowly, they will open them to foreign users as well.

What fascinates me is the complete dematerialisation and the simplicity of usage. On the other side, the biggest problem is that you are glued to your phone, all the time…

Of course, if you find yourself with no network or no battery, then you’re in trouble!! But like anything, depending on one thing can be both stressful or can give you absolute freedom.


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