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Whenever Liu opened Alipay on his phone, he saw a neat grid of icons that vaguely resembled the home screen on his Samsung.
At Mc Donald’s, the convenience store, even at mom-and-pop restaurants, his friends in Shanghai used mobile payments.
Its main competitor, We Chat, belongs to the social and gaming giant Tencent.
Alipay and We Chat are less like individual apps than entire ecosystems.
If he wanted to, he could access Airbnb, Uber, or Uber’s Chinese rival Didi, entirely from inside Alipay.
It was as if Amazon had swallowed e Bay, Apple News, Groupon, American Express, Citibank, and You Tube—and could siphon up data from all of them.
If you live in the United States, you are by now accustomed to relinquishing your data to corporations.