Editor’s note: This was produced in partnership with Start Alliance, a business network between the most vibrant startup hubs around the globe. Start Alliance supports startups to adapt business models to international requirements and accelerates corporate innovations. Partner cities are Berlin, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Shanghai.

I have worked in four startup cities: Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Seoul, and Shanghai. If you ask me, which city I liked the most, I can tell you for sure, Shanghai is my favorite startup city. For me, Shanghai is a land of freedom, free from cash, free from the thing you own owning you, free to try out something new, and free to join any community.

When I first arrived in China in January 2015, I saw how I could pay for all my meals, snacks, and even my electricity and water bills using Alipay. It was a mind-blowing experience. I’m from South Korea, notorious for long online payment process. This made me largely depend on brick-and-mortar stores even just before coming to China. Since then, China is, what I call, the “IT heaven.” Now I feel most home in China since I have all the mobile payments and Mobike here.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com