Nearly 65 per cent of China’s smartphone users, or about 425 million people, make regular payments on their handsets, according to a new report from the China Internet Network Information Centre.
That percentage is up 7 points from last December, the South China Morning Post reported.
The growth has been driven in large part by wider access to high-speed mobile networks. The country’s mobile broadband (3G/4G) user base hit 820 million in May, giving it a penetration of 63 per cent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
China’s 4G penetration reached nearly 45 per cent at the end of May, with its LTE subscriber base passing 580 million. That number is up from 231 million in Q2 2015.
According to GSMA Intelligence, China had almost 910 million smartphone users at the end of Q2, up from 735 million a year ago.
Mobile payment platforms are also flourishing in China, with the market dominated by Alipay, the mobile payment arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, and Tencent’s Tenpay. Alipay claims it has 450 million subscribers in China.
But both are facing increased competition. Apple Pay launched in China in February after sealing a deal with UnionPay, and Samsung kicked off its payment service the following month, also in partnership with UnionPay.
Huawei – the world’s third largest smartphone vendor – has joined the crowd with plans to offer a payment service for its smartphones and wearables. And last month smartphone maker Xiaomi announced plans to launch its third-party mobile payment service, Xiaomi Pay, in Q3 or Q4 after completing tests with domestic banks.