You Can Now Use WeChat To Take The Subway

Matthew Brennan Case Studies

Today Tencent unveiled the first place in China where you can use WeChat to take the subway: the Southern city of Guangzhou. Its little surprise that this subway system would be first as Guangzhou is the hometown of WeChat. Read on to find out: How does it work? Is scanning a QR code really easier than using a card? And what else is WeChat doing in the public transportation area?

Pony Ma WeChat Demonstration

Above: Tencent CEO Pony Ma demonstrates using WeChat on the subway today


How does it work? 

The system works through a special WeChat mini program called ‘Tencent Ride Code’ (my translation) 腾讯乘车码. You can find it by copying and pasting the Chinese: 腾讯乘车码 into WeChat search or through the mini programs tab on discovery.

WeChat Public Transport Mini Program

Above: the WeChat ‘Ride Code’ mini program

The mini program works like a public transport card and it can be used in several other cities across China (currently): Qingdao, Zhumadian, Foshan, Hefei, Jinan, Zibo, Laiqu, Hohhot, Changde, Shanwei.


Is scanning a QR code really easier than using a card?

It’s a legitimate question. Scanning a QR code is usually slower than swiping a card. Won’t this hold up all the queues on the subway and cause chaos? Tencent in their press release made sure to emphasize that the code takes only 0.2 seconds to scan.

Super Fast Subway Check In

Need to get your technique down like this guy perhaps?


What else is WeChat doing in the public transportation area? 

Tencent have been pushing the use of WeChat public transport solutions quite hard recently. It even gained a call out mention in their last stellar earnings report on Wednesday which blew away all analysts expectations:

 “We rolled out Weixin Smart Transport, a solution which enables users to pay instantly for public transport fares by scanning QR codes, even without Internet access at the point of transaction. We will introduce more smart solutions for different verticals to better serve the social and eCommerce needs of our users and merchants.”

WeChat Bus Ticketing System

Above: WeChat bus ticketing system

2 months back was went Tencent first announced their ‘Ride code’ in Anhui province where it can be used on buses.

Pony Ma Tencent WeChat Public Transport

Above: Tencent CEO Pony Ma demonstrates using WeChat on the bus

Of course, Tencent aren’t the only ones moving in this direction, Alipay also has their very similar solutions for public transport and earlier this year the Beijing subway introduced their own mobile phone payment solution that works of NFC.

Put quite simply China just keeps getting further and further ahead in this space, could you possibly imagine using your Facebook or Instagram account to take public transport? Whereas here in China, you can even use WeChat to check-in at the airport.

WeChat Check-In Airport