A young Singaporean student’s journey in China – Calvin Wee (Part 2)

Calvin is an alumnus of NUS Business School, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Honours) with a major in Finance. Calvin was chosen for an exchange program to Peking University in his sophomore year. In his junior year, Calvin represented NUS in the prestigious NUS Overseas College Program where he was based in Shanghai throughout 2019, studying at Fudan University.


Calvin is currently the co-founder of The Young SEAkers, the first and only Southeast-Asia based non-profit focusing on youths with a China and ASEAN angle.



Hi all, Calvin here! Back with another article I will share on some of the cool consumer apps I have used while I was studying in China. (revolving around food, transportation and accommodation) 😊


E-payment: Wechat Pay and Alipay


In terms of Chinese apps that I miss the most now that I am back in Singapore, it has to be Wechat pay (from Tencent) and Alipay(from Alibaba). In terms of functionality, both does the same job of allowing their users to pay for literally EVERYTHING using their phones BUT I have both apps installed!


There are 3 reasons for this:


Firstly, I travel quite a lot when I was in China and Alipay has this additional function which allowed you to download the e-pass for the public transport of other cities. This is extremely useful for me because as a traveller on a budget, it is not very convenient to bring a bag full of coins or notes to purchase bus or MRT tickets! (Not to mention, I rarely use cash in China to begin with)



Secondly, merchants use both platforms for promotions (eg: rebates in the form of red packets), hence, for bargain hunters, it is vital to have both!


Lastly, I travel within the city riding the shared bicycle service and I subscribed for a quarterly pass on Hellobike. I can access Hellobike directly on Alipay which makes it super convenient!


All said, in terms of general usage, I used WeChat pay more because I am perpetually using WeChat as my primary messaging tool.


Note: for foreigners who want to use WeChat pay or Alipay, one has to set up a bank account in China first to link the bank ATM card with your mobile wallet


Food Delivery

The other app that I used in China was food delivery apps such as eleme and meituan. The primary reason because there are so many different deals on this app, purchasing food is not only convenient but also super affordable vis a vis to visiting restaurants. It is quite amazing via economies of scale, how these food delivery vendors are able to keep delivery costs low (think 0 delivery cost-2 yuan)


Accommodation

While many of my friends opted to rent an apartment from landlords directly, I decided to try out Ziroom, one of the largest O2O company that provides professional housing asset management services. Basically, they serve as an intermediary between the renters and the landlords by providing additional services for both ends of the users.