Mobile payments from QR codes are now an integral part of Chinese consumer culture

Alipay and WeChat are lifestyle super apps, embedded in Chinese daily life.

A payment function resides within these apps – Chinese simply link their bank account to make payments by scanning a QR code with their smartphone. Everything from restaurants, to clothes, to hotels, to borrowing a bike is paid for with the simple scan of a QR code.

Alipay and WeChat Pay together account for over 93% of China’s mobile payments and have enabled overseas payments for their 520 and 800 million respective active monthly users in 2017.

China is fast going cashless

For anyone who has visited China since 2016, the prevalence of mobile payments is likely to have stunned them. Once a cash based society, the majority of consumers leapfrogged credit cards to go straight to the convenience of mobile payment apps. It’s widely quoted that only 15% of Chinese have a credit card. Chinese consumers now spend 90 times more on their smartphones than Americans.

The preferred way to pay overseas

Mobile payments already account for around 41 percent of all transactions by Chinese when they travel abroad^.  Two thirds of Chinese travellers have used mobile payments for their expenses abroad.

During their most recent overseas trip, Chinese tourists made an average 2.8 mobile payments for every 10 transactions – almost as many as cash payments which have been declining. This trend is even more prevalent amongst younger travellers – a key group in the growing numbers who are travelling as free and independent travellers (FITs), rather than large guided tour groups.

  • 64% 64%

Convenience, speed and familiarity

98% of Chinese Smartphone users have used mobile payments. They know exactly what to do and they can approve the transaction in their own language.

  • 48% 48%

Pride for Chinese brands

Alipay and WeChat are powerful brands. WeChat accounts for 34% of China’s data traffic (Facebook account for just 14% in North America). Alipay is part of the Alibaba group.

  • 43% 43%

Preferential exchange rates

Their money goes further than it would if they relied on cash or card. Currency conversion is locked in at the time of the transaction and rates are very favourable. (You don’t need to worry about exchange rates either).

  • 36% 36%

Discounts on Purchases

Alipay and WeChat both offer discounts and promotions that encourage purchases through the app. You can also add a coupon of your own. Learn how Alipay and WeChat can help market your business.

The Alipay and WeChat Pay option will be available to Smartpay customers in Australia shortly. Register your interest online today.


Learn more about China’s preference for QR payments by reading our blog post, Why mobile payments are an integral part of Chinese consumer culture.

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