Consumers are required to pay deposits on various occasions in China, such as when they are hospitalized or rent an apartment or a car. Deposits have added to consumers' financial burdens, and sometimes it's difficult to get the money back owing to the stringent requirements of certain service providers.
For service companies, deposits paid by consumers can form a huge capital pool. Take the thriving bike-sharing services for example. In January, two bike-sharing service providers announced they each had over 10 million users. They can reap a huge profit from the vast sum through investment or, simply, bank interest.
Some deposits are reasonable, such as those for sharing bikes. They serve to compensate for possible losses of bike-sharing companies if the bikes are damaged or missing. However, some deposits are unfair, given that they simply transfer companies' operational costs to consumers.
To realize a deposit-free society, a sound social credit system should be established. Zhima Credit, an online credit rating agency backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, has made an attempt to exempt deposits for users with a credit rating above a certain level. In a hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, patients with a Zhima Credit rating above 650 points can pay for medical services, including registration, medicine and tests, after they leave the hospital. In addition to private companies, the government should also play a bigger role in building a social credit system.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Guangzhou Daily on May 4)