Let's not make payments difficult for foreigners
Both India and China skipped the traditional payments infrastructure and went straight to contactless payments.
- India has the Universal Payments Interface (UPI), a instant payment system shared across Indian banks.
- China has WeChat Pay and Alipay, third-party payments platforms run by private companies, Tencent and Ant Financial, respectively.
I respect the convenience it brings to locals but both systems leave foreigners out in the cold. Without a local bank account, it’s effectively impossible to join the same network of payments that all commercial activity takes part in. Foreigners aren’t allowed into the party and have to pay with cash.
We’re in 2024 and these countries have what I’d consider advanced fintech infrastructure, for goodness sake!
Alipay and WeChat Pay, China's two major payment apps, recently allowed foreign users to link international credit cards to their platforms, a move that will provide great convenience to foreign travelers in China's cashless society https://t.co/mGwn3dOAHU pic.twitter.com/J4x5Q3HC8g— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) August 3, 2023
China permitted foreigners to link international credit cards to Alipay and WeChat Pay last summer. I haven’t been to China since the announcement but I’ve heard it goes a long way for tourists. India has yet to do something similar to the best of my knowledge but I hope that day comes soon.
Both countries share the distinct advantage of having a self-sustaining market so neither may feel a need to make adjustments immediately. But China is aggressively courting international visitors these days and India will want to show off its progress to the world. Making payments easier would go a long way to appeal to short-term tourists.