You can't pay cash in China
The fanciest hotels to roadside fruit stands display a QR code — a type of bar code — that people scan with a smartphone camera to pay, cash is not excepted in many places and stores.
It’s hard for those of us who live outside of China to grasp how paying for everything has gone digital in the country.
Most businesses there, from the fanciest hotels to roadside fruit stands, display a QR code — a type of bar code — that people scan with a smartphone camera to pay with China’s dominant digital payment apps, Alipay and WeChat.
How did Alipay and WeChat get so popular in China?
If a business can get a printout of a QR code, it can get paid by the app. They don’t need special machines like businesses do to accept credit cards or many mobile payments like Apple Pay, which are essentially digital wallets of bank cards, while Alipay and WeChat are more pure digital payments.
What’s useful about these payment apps?
China has a stodgy, state-dominated banking system. These apps have allowed small businesses to connect to modern financial infrastructure easily.
Paying with a credit card isn’t tremendously difficult, but making it a fraction easier to buy stuff has enabled different kinds of commerce. You probably wouldn’t buy something on Instagram for 50 cents with your credit card, but people in China buy digital books one chapter at a time which is in some cases it's equivalent to 50 cents.
Alipay and WeChat are so dominant that no one can compete with them in today's time in China and it's getting more popular in other countries like Europe, East Asia, and even in third world countries like Nepal.