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China will cap QR-code payments to tackle fraud

The move may help circumvent money laundering and other nefarious deeds.
Timothy J. Seppala, @timseppala
December 28, 2017
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Bobby Yip / Reuters

China's central bank is issuing regulations over QR-code-based payments. Paying for things by scanning a barcode with the Alibaba or WeChat app is more common than using cash in the region and now the government wants to keep closer tabs on where the money is going. You might laugh at the idea, but QR codes aren't the punchline in the east that they are here. For instance, plenty of cabbies prefer taking QR payments because it means they don't have to handle small change.

The payment systems have a dark side, though, facilitating money laundering and allowing shady online retailers to cook the books by sending themselves money. These new regulations could stymie those nefarious deeds.

Starting in April, static QR transactions will have a hard limit of Rmb500 ($76.52) per person, per day. "Additional daily limits of Rmb1,000 ($153.03) or Rmb5,000 ($765.15) apply to barcode payers who have not completed certain authentication procedures," Financial Times writes.

The People's Bank of China also believes this move will help settle security issues and foster fair competition between Alibaba and Tencent's WeChat platforms according to state-sponsored news outlet Xinhuanet. Unlike NFC payments in the west, this proves that QR code payments in the region have become so common that the government can't afford to ignore them anymore.

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