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Uber China Doesn’t Play Nice Anymore With Worldwide Uber App

One Uber app for China, one for the rest of the world

Folks, it looks like we’re all going back to using taxis again.

The latest update for Uber’s China app is now completely different from the one the ride-sharing service uses worldwide – making it difficult for expats and visitors to use in China.

Unveiled Sunday, the newest version of the Uber China app requires all users to create a new account using a local phone number as well as a valid Chinese online payment system such as Unionpay, Alipay or Baidu Wallet. Also, it’s completely in Chinese; “English language” is not currently an option.

Expats in China who haven’t yet made the leap to using mobile wallets will now be forced to do so; however, new visitors to China won’t be able to hail an Uber car at all.

Uber had previously distinguished itself by not requiring such information, making it more enticing to expats than its former competitor, Didi Chuxing.

The update basically means there are two Uber apps: one for the rest of the world, and one that is exclusively used in China.

Following Uber and Didi’s merger after years of heated competition, an update for the Uber China app appeared in October that contained some of these expat hurdles. At that time, Uber said these features will be corrected in future updates.

“We apologize to our users for any inconvenience may be caused by this transition. The Uber China team has been working hard to make the new version faster-responding and more user friendly,” said the company in a statement.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor