What a Beijing taxi driver will never say.

This chinese new year, I went to the bustling city of Shanghai for a family holiday. To get to the hotel I took a taxi, and upon arrival and the destination, the taxi driver asked: 用卡还是现金?(will you be using card or cash for payment).

This happened many times in Shanghai, and on the last day on a long trip back to the airport, i gathered some insight about the Shanghai taxi payment system.
Compared to the Beijing method, the Shanghai ways seem very much convenient for both the driver and the consumer.

Firstly, some background information. Like most cities around the world, China has transportation cards that citizens use for payment on the subways and buses. Beijing’s transportation card is called Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card- Yikatong.

My Beijing Yikatong!

Shanghai’s card is called Shanghai Public Transportation Card SPTC – Jiaotong Yikatong. In both cities, taxis are equipped with machines to accept payment via these transporation cards. In Beijing however, no taxi drivers are really willling to accept this kind of payment because they have to go through much administrative processes.

In Shanghai, payment to the taxi drivers are settled internally by the company, saving taxi drivers the hassle of going to collect the payment themselves. However, this payment is made out as a lump sum at the end of each month. It was previously such that the drivers could claim it everyday, but it was too inconvenient. Getting this monthly payout was not an issue to them as well; it is just like a salary collected at the end of each month. From the driver’s perspective, they are willing to accept this payment method.

According to the driver, about 20% of his passengers use these transportation cards to pay. Besides the convenience of using one card to pay for all transportation methods, the taxi driver said that these transportation cards are also common gifts that people give to each other. Using their gift cards to pay would essentially mean a free trip, gifted by their friends.

Evidently, for a payment method to even take off, both consumer and service provider/merchant have to enjoy much convenience before user adoption would even be possible.

Though in China, many other factors come into play too. Would you like to pay for your taxi trips using your transportation cards?


About Grace Chia

Loves Food and Travels. The views expressed here do not represent that of my company or my employers.
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2 Responses to What a Beijing taxi driver will never say.

  1. Mona says:

    Grace, when I was in Shanghai, I was always accompanied by someone who speaks the language, except this ONCE. I gave the taxi driver my Shanghai Public Transportation Card SPTC to pay the fare & he started fussing at me. I thought he was telling me to get out of his cab because we were blocking traffic. On our return to the hotel, I was with my Chinese friends & offered to pay with my transit card. They informed me that it was empty…no cash left on it. I ashamedly realized that I had stiffed my taxi driver, that he was not fussing at me about getting out of the cab but that I had not paid him. OUCH! That poor man!

    By the way, I just nominated you for the Versatile Bloggers Award. Check out my post to find out more.

    • Grace Chia says:

      Hey Mona! Thank you for sharing your experience! Yes, it does causes confusion sometimes, but SH taxi drivers are much willing to accept these payments. I just checked out the award, thanks for that, it means alot to me!:)

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