Taobao Guide Part 2: Alipay

Alipay is one of the main ways to pay for things electronically in China. It works for shopping, food delivery apps, many stores and restaurants, and sending money to your friends. Here, we’re going to set up a bank card on Alipay. You need a Chinese bank card, Chinese phone number, your passport number and your name exactly as your bank typed it in when you made your account. All the info must match or it won’t work, so make sure your bank has your up-to-date phone number. 

First, download the Alipay app. Just type “Alipay” into your phone’s app store and download and install. It’s free and it’s (mostly) in English. Open up the app and follow the steps below. The first few steps will get you to the right page to input your info. Those photos simply have a red arrow where you need to click. Otherwise, read on and follow the instructions.

You’re now on the PIN selection page. This is where you select your payment password. It needs to be 6 digits long, all numbers, and you’ll be prompted to put it in again after you’ve typed it the first time. If the two entries match, you’ll be automatically re-directed to the next step. Remember, this code is as important as your bank account PIN. If you choose a weak password, like 123456 or 999999, anybody who has access to your phone can drain your bank account.

After you’ve been redirected, you’ll have to get into your user settings and onto the page for adding a bank card. Follow the arrows below. 

Almost done! On this page, you’ll need to put in the number from your bank card. After you’ve filled it in, you’ll be sent to the next page, where you input your personal information.

The bank card type is automatically selected based on the card number. Tap beside “Mainland Identity Card” to drop down a menu, and select “Passport.” Fill in your name exactly as your bank entered it into their computer. This means using exactly the same spacing, order and capitalization. This should be on your registration paper from when you made your bank account. 

Enter your passport number and your cell number. A blue box that says “Next” will pop up at the bottom. Tap that and you’re all done!

If everything went well, you’re all signed up for Alipay. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t work. If so, there are a few reasons that could explain why:

  • Your name is wrong. This is the most common reason, and one of the more annoying ones. If you don’t have the original account registration paper, try all capital letters, putting your surname before your given names, or adding or removing spaces between names. If none of this works, you get to go to the bank to ask in person!
  • Your phone number isn’t the one you registered with at the bank. If you receive text messages about your bank balance then you can be certain it’s correct. Otherwise, it’s possible the staff typed a number in wrong when you registered. In that case, head to the bank and get it updated.
  • Internet issues. Sometimes the connection is just lost. Try again. 

Hopefully you’re all signed up and ready to shop. If you have any problems or the method has changed, please let me know in the comments below!

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About Jill Marie

Jill is a writer, reader, and foodie based out of Guiyang, Guizhou, China. She spends her time visiting Guiyang's restaurants, bars, and attractions so she can share this remarkable city with the world.

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