China was the first country in the world to use paper money. Just a few short centuries later, the popularity of mobile payments has some analysts predicting that China could become the first cashless society within the next decade.
Staying cashless has become the norm in many cities in China. Noodle shops in Shanghai and street artists in Shenzhen all accept mobile payments through a free Wechat account and a printed QR code. According to the latest report from Chinese consulting company iresearch, the market scale of China’s third-party mobile payment doubled in 2016, reaching US$5.5 trillion in total. The number is nearly 50 times larger than the mobile payment market in the United States. China’s Market Research Group estimates the country’s mobile payment market is now 40 to 50 times the size of the United States.
The biggest appeal of mobile payments is convenience. People easily move around with little or no cash. However, the proliferation of transactions has also aroused security concerns. The Better Than Cash Alliance of the United Nations says mobile payment platforms are still working to balance innovation and regulation and actively taking measures to reduce financial risk and fraud.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, as of December 2016, 50.3 percent of buyers in China had used mobile payments for offline shopping.