Credit: Shanghai Metro (

Credit: Shanghai Metro (

Shanghai Metro goes cashless with QR code and mobile payments

On Jan 16, Shanghai Metro announced its plans to go cashless in all 389 metro stations with QR code mobile payment supported by Alipay and China UnionPay.

According to announcement made by Shanghai Metro (in Chinese only), the cashless payment option will be available in all 389 metro stations along the 17 lines of the Shanghai Metro from Jan 20 onwards.

Shanghai Metro is the world’s largest subway system by mileage with its 700-km network. Its daily ridership is over 11 million, according to a report by South China Morning Post. The move to cashless payments will help passengers save time from tickets queues and jammed entry and exit. With improvements in rider experience, it is hoped that more people will be encouraged to take public transport and reduce road traffic in the long run.

To opt for the mobile payment, passengers will need to download a specific app offered by the Shanghai Metro. Using the app, passengers can pay the transport fare simply by scanning the QR code. The process only takes seconds. According to China Daily, the Shanghai Metro mobile payment app can operate without wireless data connection.

‍Credit: Shanghai Metro (

There are 2 ways that passengers could pay for their transport fare with the new metro app, either they deposit money in their accounts in advance or enable auto-deduction from their accounts after each journey.

At the initial stage, the mobile payment is supported by Alipay and China UnionPay. More mobile payment providers are likely to jump on board in the future.

In terms of supporting facilities for the initiative, Shanghai Metro will have at least two gates in each train station that enable the mobile payment service. The metro operator will set up more gates to support its cashless plans in the future.

Between Jan 20 and the end of February, both payment providers Alipay and UnionPay are offering promotional discounts to lure passengers to switch to the new payment method.

According to South China Morning Post, China now has 502 million mobile payment users. The two largest mobile payment service providers are Alipay and WeChat. Both companies are active in offering mobile payments in public transport systems in various cities in China.

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