After a 5-hour flight on 4th May, Friday, the first batch of ALP 2018 students landed in Hangzhou and made their way to their accommodation in Zhejiang University.
Over the weekend, most of us spent our time unpacking our luggage, attending to admin matters like obtaining a SIM card and opening a bank account. Most of us also took the time to explore the streets nearby as well as the closest Walmart to the campus to get our living essentials. After opening a bank account and setting up Alipay, it felt so seamless to make purchases, be it in real life at a supermarket or in online shopping (eg. Taobao).
In my 2 days so far, I can’t help but make comparisons between the cashless modes of transactions here and those in Singapore. In the ZJU Canteen, we store money in our Student IDs and we make our purchases by tapping our ID at the cashier after collecting our food. Almost everywhere else, the cashier designates the total cost of the transaction and scans the barcode in our Alipay app to complete the purchase. In both cases, it does not take more than a couple of seconds for the transaction to be complete.
In Singapore, I mostly use Paywave and PayLah! as my preferred modes of cashless transactions. Although Paywave is convenient and simple because it directly deducts from the bank account without an intermediary like Alipay, I have observed that the time taken for the transaction to be complete varies depending on the stores I go to, and they usually take longer than the transactions completed via our ZJU Student IDs and Alipay. Comparing PayLah! to Alipay, one big difference I notice is that the cashiers can easily specify the cost of the transaction and scan our phones to complete the transaction. When I use PahLah! at a cashier, I have to specify the amount to pay as a buyer (at least in my experience), which raises a few issues in my opinion, like what happens if the buyer specifies the wrong amount, and the fact that the buyer needs to take the extra bit of time to type the amount in the phone, when it can be more efficient if the cashiering machine and PayLah! are well-integrated enough such that the cashiering machine can automatically specify the amount.
Well, despite the differences, Singapore’s efforts have brought us much closer to becoming a cashless society than before. I’m confident that in the near future, we can look forward to becoming as efficient in transactions as what I’m experiencing here in Hangzhou today 🙂
Okay, enough of all that heavy talk! Here are some photos of my experiences in the past 3 days!