A mini program found in the Alipay app, the lead payments app run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, has attracted 40,000 car owners in its first 10 days. It tackles the now typically Chinese problem of parking chaos with the typically modern Chinese QR code.

The applet called MoveCar (or 码上挪车 Ma Shang Nuo Che which translates roughly as “shift a car with a code” but including a pun on “mashang” meaning “immediately”) lets users create a pass with a QR code printed on it. The driver can then display the card somewhere inside the vehicle so that should someone want to contact the owner–for example if the car is blocking them in or is parked across their front door or side street–they simply scan the QR code. This allows the owner to anonymize his or her contact details and provides a way for others to anonymously send an SMS or call the owner to negotiate.

Currently the usual way is for car owners to write their mobile number on a form typically provided for free as a promotional item. However this presents the problem of giving away private information: the owner’s number plate as well as car license number.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...