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China Called Finance Apps the Best Thing Since the Compass. No Longer.


When the coronavirus jammed up China’s economy last year, Rao Yong needed cash to tide over his online handicrafts business. But he dreaded the idea of spending long, dull hours at the bank.The outbreak had snarled delivery services and made customers slow on their payments, so Mr. Rao, 33, used an app called Alipay to receive early payment on his invoices. Because his Alipay account was already tied to his digital storefront on Alibaba’s Taobao bazaar, getting the money was quick and painless.Alipay had helped Mr. Rao a few years before as well, when his business was …

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