About 65 per cent of online payment transactions last year in China were made on mobile devices, according to a study by Alipay, the mobile payment unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba.
That percentage is up from 49 per cent in 2014. Some speculate that, given the current growth rate, smartphones are likely to replace wallets for many people.
More than 100 million people in 124 cities across 19 provinces use Alipay, the company said. Its figures show 40 types of public services and more than 4,000 business applications available through its platform.
Alipay, the largest third-party payment service provider in China, said that in addition to paying medical bills and traffic tickets, people are also using Alipay’s services to inquire about their provident fund balances and social security payments, book appointments at marriage registration offices and renew exit-entry permits for Hong Kong and Macao.
Alipay’s business was extended to public services last April. The Zhejiang government, for example, launched its own government affairs service platform on Alipay to collect public opinion and suggestions.
The study found that provident fund queries were the most popular type of Alipay service in Beijing. In Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, more than one million people have made social security payment inquiries since the service was launched two months ago. Shanghai residents can register their marriages using Alipay.
China Daily quoted Li Chao, an analyst at iResearch Consulting, as saying: “Alipay is penetrating every aspect of people’s daily life, and we expect to see it being used to access even more government and social public services in future, which will help grow its market share.”
Filling rural gaps
Alipay said mobile payments are more popular in the country’s underdeveloped western regions. The Tibet autonomous region leads in mobile payments with 83 per cent of online payments made with mobile devices last year.
Li said that the lack of bricks-and-mortar businesses in the region is the main reason for the high use of mobile payments, China Daily reported.
Alipay accounts for about 70 per cent of online payments, according to Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International.
Alipay’s biggest rival, Tencent’s WeChat, also has been aligning its services more with the public sector. About 40 million people were able to use 27 types of public transactions using WeChat at the end of last year, the newspaper said.