Payment, China-style

I used to get paid in cash, a whole crisp stack of it tucked into a bulging white paper envelope held somewhat closed by a rubber band. It sometimes got so unwieldy, it was like holding a loosely wrapped burrito with one hand.

I was chatting with a friend about freelance work today, and she was astonished to learn about how I got paid as a freelancer in Shanghai, especially when I told her one of the gigs was for an international arts festival put on by the Shanghai government.

As confusing as it sounds to people here, getting paid in cold, hard cash is absolutely legit…and makes you feel kinda like a baller (but not really).

The largest denomination in Mainland China is RMB 100 as a deterrent to rampant counterfeiting. RMB 100 is currently roughly equivalent to 6 US dollars. Add that conversion to a preference for cash, and you’ll realize why it’s common to conduct business transactions with literally briefcases of money across the Mainland.

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Hong Kongers really care about Whatsapp


This is on display at 1010, one of Hong Kong’s top phone service providers.

My 64 and 65 year old parents cited this specific service as a big reason for choosing to purchase a phone from 1010.

They use Whatsapp to stay in touch with their friends, also in their 60s, as well as the rest of our family, ranging from 20 to 50 year olds.

My mother even uses it with her vegetable seller at the wet market (at his request!) to chat about what’s fresh today, how much she wants to order, when is a good time to come by, etc. It’s pretty amazing. :)