Alipay Makes a New Arrival at the Xi’an Subway System

January 4, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Not so long ago, we heard about how Alipay was really making headway in the public transit system. Alipay was increasingly accepted at subways and bus stations and more, and not just in China, either. Now, with the new year just barely started, Ant Financial sent word our way about one more start for the payments system: the Xi’an subway system.

As a result, Xi’an subway riders can now pay their fares with a combination of their mobile device and a quick scan of a quick response (QR) code. With that, subway riders will be able to access the subway at any of the stations in Xi’an. Reports suggest that paying for and boarding a subway car is now between 2.5 and three times faster than before, thanks to the removal of the need to line up for tickets or top up a prepaid mobile operation.

Moreover, using Alipay actually turns a subway ride into an even greener experience than mass transit normally provides; Alipay has connected to Ant Forest, an environmental initiative that provides a “green energy” credit once a subway ride is paid for.

After a certain amount of that green energy is accumulated, the user can then declare where he or she would like a tree planted via one of Alipay’s partners in this field. So far, Ant Forest has planted over 13.14 million trees at last report, and reduced carbon emissions by 1.81 million tons so far.

Essentially, Alipay is not only making a subway ride more convenient, it’s also making it a better alternative for society. That’s a difficult line to walk; just ask anyone who remembers how McDonald’s used to package all its to-go food in Styrofoam containers rather than cardboard. Usually the more convenient alternative is the less societally-beneficial one. That’s a lot for a mobile payments app to pull off, yet here, it’s done the job surprisingly well. 

Given that China has suffered some serious blows at the hands of ecology of late, a move to help replant some areas and get more trees into play is a welcome one. The notion that this could be done via subway ride is a particular surprise, but such is the power of mobile payments and subway rides.