Digital Life’s Necessary Changing State


he increased convenience of new technologies can be taken advantage of, or perhaps worse, utilised for nefarious purposes. Therefore proper policy and regulation is required. While such may not seem a vital tool for our convenience, we shall see that as the world becomes smaller and more digitised, it is more necessary than ever, in order to protect our own personal interests, as well as society as a whole.

Limiting Our Spending; Protect Our Interests

QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, are ubiquitous in Chinese daily life. There is now a QR code for nearly every form of expenditure in our modern lives. As people in China have become increasingly more reliant on the usage of QR codes for payment, it has become necessary for China’s financial institutions to begin to regulate in this area, especially as it is rife for potential fraud.

In March of last year, it was reported by the South China Morning Post that approximately ¥90 million had been stolen via QR Codes by fraudsters in Guangdong. This was accomplished by replacing the actual legitimate QR codes with ones containing a type of virus designed to latch onto the user’s device and drain money from the accounts of the user. In an effort to combat this, the People’s Bank of China has begun to propose the Circular of the People’s Bank of China on Issuing the Standards for Barcode Payment Business (for Trial Implementation), together with other regulations for the users of QR Codes in the future.

Firstly, there will be a daily limit on the amount that a user may spend while scanning a QR code, or a payment cap. Initial limits begin at ¥500, although this can be increased to ¥5,000 if certain authentication procedures are followed by the user. Furthermore, the People’s Bank of China will require all stores, shops, restaurants, etc. to obtain a license to use a QR code to legally collect payment.
These payment caps came into effect officially on 1 April, and are seemingly just the start, as the People’s Bank of China also wants to see additional measures taken to ensure customers safety in the use of QR Codes. Such prospective provisions include expiration dates, regular updates and encryption for the kind of so-called “static” QR Codes, common in restaurants and cafés, that never change and are thus particularly vulnerable to fraud. China’s top QR Code payment processors, Alipay and WeChatPay, have both come out in full support of the regulations, showcasing a clear willingness to allow the industry to grow and become more efficient and safe.

China Back on Two Wheels Again

“The Flying Pigeon” was once one of the country’s most recognisable symbols and the convenient use of QR codes to unlock and pay for the service has also been an important factor. However, with an estimated 4.5 million bike share users in Shanghai alone, the rapid boom of the usage of shared bikes has led to numerous public nuisance issues.

Therefore, a list of industry standards was released in July of last year by the Ministry of Transport requesting local governments to punish individuals who park their bicycles outside of permitted areas or in any way vandalise the bikes; it is also stated that the bikes must be properly distributed across the cities in order to avoid excessive build-ups in specific areas. These provisions help to alleviate the piling up of bikes in random areas of the city streets and actually go even further by specifying a service life of 3 years for all share bikes, while demanding that bike sharing companies hire at least one maintenance employee to be in charge for every 200 bikes.

Regulation of some of our modern forms of convenience is therefore essential for our own personal security as well as to assist in alleviating any potentially unforeseen social issues that may arise with these new technologies.

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Legal columnist Carlo D’Andrea is Chair of the Legal & Competition Working group of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China; Shanghai Chapter, Coordinator of the Nanjing Working Group of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China and has taught Chinese law (commercial and contractual) at Rome 3 University. 法律作家代开乐担任中国欧盟商会上海分会法律与竞争工作组主席,中国意大利商会劳动集团的协调员与曾经在罗马三大担任企业咨询课程中中国商法、合同法的课程教授。