China's mobile payments surge to $17 trillion

BEIJING • Mobile payments in China totalled 81 trillion yuan (S$17 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year as cashless transactions become increasingly popular, official data showed.

The 10-month figure represented a 37.8 per cent leap over the 58.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology cited by Xinhua news agency yesterday.

China is one of the world's leading players in mobile or e-payment, which has made it possible for Chinese to buy a pancake at roadside breakfast stalls, order food online, pay credit card bills, and manage stock accounts with just a smartphone.

Among China's 724 million mobile phone users as at the end of June last year, more than 35 per cent often make mobile payments while 31.8 per cent prefer using cash or credit cards, Xinhua said, citing figures released by China Internet Network Information Centre.

Homegrown giants Alibaba and Tencent dominate China's digital payment market. They have also sought to expand their global footprint, although that push has so far been limited to payment services for Chinese outbound tourists.

Chinese on overseas trips can now scan-and-pay for purchases in dozens of countries or regions via Alibaba's Alipay or Tencent's WeChat Pay.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'China's mobile payments surge to $17 trillion'. Print Edition | Subscribe