With the introduction of WeChat Wallet, the super easy, fuss-free, mostly foreigner-friendly and socially integrated money platform, Alipay is about to become little more than your cranky ex-boyfriend. Here’s how to get yourself set up (and here's how to do more!)
If you’ve got the latest version of WeChat installed, you’ve got access to WeChat Wallet. Head over to your home screen (or “Me” on the menu at the bottom) and a brand new tab for your Wallet awaits. If you don’t see it, changing your language settings to Chinese kicks your wallet into existence. Go to Settings> General> Language>简化中国 (Simplified Chinese) and head back to your page.
While it’s possible to change your settings back to English while holding onto your wallet, we had to give it a couple of rounds of turning it off and on again before it decided to stay for good. Or, you know, just leave everything in Chinese and learn some new characters while you’re at it.
Testing this on multiple mobile phones, we did notice that your wallet may take a while to appear, so be patient. Easy ways to buy things come to those who wait. If you want to speed things along, though, you can get the ball rolling by enlisting the help of a friend more hip than you who already has WeChat Wallet. Get your sugar daddy to transfer you as little as RMB1, and once you accept the money, you should be able to see it in your newly visible WeChat Wallet.
The first thing you’ll want to do is add your precious money to your account, which you can do in two ways: transfers and bank cards.
To add a card, go to the Bank Card section right on the top. You’ll need to add a six-digit password; make sure this is something easy enough to remember as you’ll be using this to make all future payments and transfers. Put in the number on your bank card and WeChat automatically detects which bank and type of card you’re using. You’ll then be asked for your name and ID type.
Not all banks are equal, and some require a local ID number (if you tap on “ID Card” and nothing happens, your bank is having none of it). This, of course, means that unless you’re a Chinese citizen, not all doors are open to you. Fortunately, there are now 11 banks that will accept your passport as validation, including China Merchants Bank (our recommended bank), ICBC, Bank of China, and China Construction Bank. We hear that ABC, Industrial Bank, HuaXia Bank, Bank of Communications and China Everbright Bank will also work with passports.
Put in your name, and ensure that you use your name in the same format featured in your bank details (if you’re sure you’ve got it right and it still doesn’t work, try capitalizing everything). Throw in your passport number and registered mobile number, get some digits by means of an SMS verification, and you’re all set. Summon some cash from your bank account to your WeChat Wallet and you’re ready to start doing everything you need to do in a fabulously easy way.
Transfers are another way to send money from one account to another; you’re only required to select a contact and declare how much money you’re sending over. Sort out dinner payments, make a bet, help a brutha out or, if you’re as lucky as we were, receive a RMB1 welcome-to-WeChat Wallet gift from a charitable friend.
Note: We’ve tested it out, and transferring money to a friend who hasn’t set a wallet up yet prompts a message along the lines of, “You’ve got money, but a wallet you have not.” This money will be ready and waiting once WeChat Wallet has been activated.
So you’re set up with money in your account and you’re excited to spend it all. We know the dangers. We too have wanted to buy things just because it’s so damn easy, and we confess to having sent Lucky Money (a bit of WeChat gambling) to friends just for the hell of it. Pro tip: If you’re like us, regularly reminding yourself that this is real money might be useful.
Here’s where the fun begins: Once you’re all set up and have your money locked and loaded, you can start buying movie tickets, booking taxis, arranging plane tickets, donating to charity, paying your utilities (no more running out of water in the middle of your shower) and using group discounts.
You’re about to become a jet-setting, bill-paying, film-watching, contributing member of society, and it’s going to be so good. We promise. In fact, we’re just going to come right out and call it: Everything is about to change.
Stay tuned in the next issue for even more ways to use WeChat Wallet, from paying off your credit card bill to paying for beer at your neighborhood convenience store.
Find out how to do more on WeChat Wallet here.
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