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Its Difficult for Foreigners to Spend Money in China ! Is this True?

In an era of deepening globalization, China has attracted numerous foreigners to work and live within its borders. However, an unexpected issue has arisen for many of them — having money doesn’t necessarily mean they can spend it freely in China. This issue, dubbed “wealth but no spending power,” actually reflects a deeper “digital barrier.”

Digital Payment: A Barrier Hard to Overcome
Upon his return to Shanghai from Hong Kong, a businessman named Jiang Shan encountered a payment problem on his first day back in China. All his Alipay and WeChat Pay accounts were frozen due to prolonged inactivity, and his foreign cards were often not accepted in many places. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Jiang Shan; many newly arrived foreigners in China face similar challenges.

Policy Attention and Solutions
Premier Li Keqiang, in a recent meeting, approved the “Opinions on Further Optimizing Payment Services and Improving Payment Convenience,” specifically addressing the inconvenience faced by foreigners in making payments in China. With China entering into visa-free agreements with more and more countries, solving this issue has become particularly urgent.

Difficulty Using Foreign Cards, Inconvenience of Cash
In China, mobile payment has become mainstream, posing a significant challenge for foreigners who still prefer using credit cards and cash. David, a Canadian, experienced this firsthand. He and his colleagues found it nearly impossible to use foreign cards outside of major cities in China. Even in places that accept credit card payments, they often encountered various excuses for not accepting their cards.

Challenges of Mobile Payment
For international tourists visiting China for short periods, registering and using WeChat Pay or Alipay can also be challenging. Although Alipay and WeChat Pay have started supporting binding overseas bank cards, foreigners still face a series of issues such as registration, login, and real-name authentication in practice.

Opening Up the Payment Environment Globally
To improve the payment experience for foreigners in China, China has begun trying various methods to address payment issues, including supporting large-scale card payments, small-scale QR code payments, and cash payments. However, the real challenge lies in balancing the convenience and security of payments, and ensuring that foreigners with different payment habits can easily spend money in China.

Conclusion: Finding a Balance
China’s payment revolution has led the world with its convenience and innovation, but for many foreigners, this change also brings significant challenges. Solving the problem of “wealth but no spending power” requires not only technological innovation but also policy support and international cooperation. With more efforts and attempts, it is believed that in the near future, foreigners coming to China will truly enjoy the convenience of the Chinese payment environment, making this issue a thing of the past.

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