The 3 Best Uniquely Chinese Apps
Living in China has meant that a lot of my everyday apps and ways of doing things have been cut off and I’ve been made to rethink how I organize my life. I’m learning to adopt the Chinese way of doing things.
It didn’t take too long for me to realize that Chinese people have access to some incredible apps that really make life a lot more efficient and cost effective. Here below are my three favorite Chinese apps that help me everyday.
1. AliPay. This is all-time favorite payment app that uses QR codes and background synergy to pay for literally everything. All stores in China scan QR codes and Chinese people use a variety of apps that are connected to their bank accounts to generate codes unique to them for the store to scan. The two major brands (kinda like Visa and Mastercard for us) is Wechat and AliPay.
Wechat is the countries biggest communication app and it’s pretty great too, but AliPay is more useful for me because not only can I produce a QR code that can be scanned in store for me to buy anything I need, I can use it for online shopping (so can Wechat actually) but uniquely it can pay my bills.
When my power, gas, internet or any other bill comes in, the bill comes with a whole lot of Chinese but also a QR code. I can scan that code and immediately my bill is written out in English on my phone, one touch and it’s paid. I can even set up auto payment for next time. I can also recharge my sim card right in the app, hail a cab, book a flight, hotel or restaurant and pay for it right in the app.
In addition the app works with my second favorite app (below) to pay for what I need in the background.
2. Elama. This is a food delivery app that has access to hundreds of restaurants that I can order from and have delivered to my door. This sounds a lot like Uber Eats, but unlike Eats it’s actually cheaper a lot of the time to order from the app then to go in store. The reason is the intense competition on the app is making the restaurants compete for your business, competition they don’t necessarily have at their store front with foot traffic during dinner time. When lined up in the app on a long virtual street the store has to make it worth your while for you to buy dinner with them. In addition to being open 24 hours a day it’s got more than just restaurants, you can also do your grocery shopping or pick up some things from the local convenience store. Plus once it’s all ordered and discounts applied AliPay will spring up from the background, you just touch your thumbprint and it’s all paid for. It’s insanely easy even for the man who can read only one word of Chinese. (The word for fire looks like a fire).
3. Didi. This is a taxi hailing app that looks a lot like Uber with a few minor differences. Once again it works with AliPay in the background so paying is very easy, in fact you can use the app from AliPay’s app directly.
There are also tons of cabs available and variances in price. If you like the price your getting you can commit to it and pay for it ahead of time. If you don’t like the price being offered then take one of the waiting options and bid for a lower price on a car later. If your prepared to wait around you can grab a cab that was heading your way anyway and he’ll pick you up at a discount. In addition this app has a version entirely in English so it’s beyond easy.
And that’s the list! There are thousands of amazing Chinese apps out there so let me know the ones you love that I need to know about and if it changes my life, I’ll give you a big shout out.