Beijing metro to accept mobile payments via QR codes on April 29

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Commuters using Beijing’s metro system will soon be able to utilize mobile payment platforms including WeChat Pay and Alipay to pay fares with the city’s new transit app. The service will be available on all but the Xijiao line from April 29, our sister site is reporting.

The Easy Pass (易通行 yitongxing) app will allow commuters to access the city’s metro system using QR codes.  It uses a “ride first, pay later” feature, in which fares are deducted only when leaving the station. Similar platforms have already been implemented in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Xi’an.

App users are also eligible to commute at the discounted rates of regular card holders. After spending RMB 100 in a month,  subsequent trips are subject to a 20% discount. This increases to 50% after spending RMB 150. However, when spending reaches RMB 400, deductions no longer apply.

QR codes are one way of digitizing payments for commutes, but Apple takes a different approach. An iOS update released March 30 allows commuters in Beijing and Shanghai to pay fares using Apple Pay. The feature makes use of NFC technology in iPhones and Apple Watches, negating the need to open an app that generates a QR code.

Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun reacted by saying his company’s smartphones can be used can be used to pay for public transport in over 60 cities in China. He said nine Xiaomi phones are NFC-enabled.

However, NFC-enabled devices are expensive, while QR codes are ubiquitous, making them an accessible medium for payments.