Almost 68 per cent of China’s mobile phone users used their handsets to make payments in 2016, official sources in the country reported.

A self-titled annual report by the China Internet Network Information Center – an agency of the Ministry of Industry and Information (MIIT) – revealed 469 million people used mobile payments in the country during 2016, a year-on-year rise of 31 per cent.

The agency said the country saw an overall increase in mobile usage during 2016 with 695 million registered users across the country. Of these, over two thirds used some sort of mobile payment. Its official mobile usage statistics show users in the country grew ten per cent during 2016, the same rate of growth as in the previous two years.

Analysts recently predicted a regulatory squeeze on third party payment providers in China, which is tipped to hit the country’s mobile payment market leader Alipay – affiliated to commerce giant Alibaba – and competitor WeChatPay.

Under the new regulations, companies will have to deposit client reserve funds into state-run accounts which do not generate any interest and can’t be used to fund other projects.