Cashless Payments Fail in China Floods

Aug 2, 2021


Flooding across central China has highlighted the risks of full digitalisation as people were left unable to pay for essentials when power and internet outages saw cashless payments fail.

Over one million people have been displaced following record-breaking rain that fell for three days, flooding large areas of Henan Province. Compounding the physical challenges faced by rescuers, communication and transport systems have been compromised and it has been impossible to conduct e-payments.

South China Morning Post describes ‘a digital dark age’, observing that for some it has been an unwelcome inconvenience while for others, it has become a matter of life and death.

Without the internet, my phone has turned into a brick that glows.
"Qinwen, Zhengzhou Resident

Grocery stores across Zhengzhou—the provincial capital of Henan—have responded by allowing customers to open tabs, with people leaving their phone numbers and promising to come back and settle their debts once the situation stabilises.

Residents have taken the disaster as a wake-up call to be better prepared in future. A list of 20 survival necessities has been prepared and includes canned food, a first aid kit, walkie-talkies and—of course—cash.

Last Updated: Aug 10, 2021