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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
China is going cashless
    2017-May-15  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    SINCE some point last year, I, like millions of others, have gone shopping without carrying my wallet. A smartphone will pay for everything I need ranging from a big-ticket item like a washing machine to a few sprigs of green onion.

    What an amazing sight it is that everyone holds their mobile phone over a QR code reader, and with a beep, completes the payment.

    The other day, when I was talking with a cafe manager of a Starbucks near my home about mobile payment, he told me that almost no one used cash there anymore, adding that more than 80 percent of all payments in his shop were made via mobile phones.

    Even to a native Chinese like me who has grown accustomed to breathtaking changes in China over the past few decades, China’s leapfrog from the credit card era to the mobile payment is too swift to catch on. Millions of people living far away from credit card banking catchment are simply hopping directly from cash to mobile.

    Almost overnight, the rest of the world is talking about China’s drastic FinTech revolution and everyone in China is talking about the prospect of a cashless society in the near future.

    Among China’s 710 million Internet users – more than the United States and Europe combined – the utilization ratio of mobile online payments stands at 67.5 percent, primarily through Alibaba’s Alipay or WeChat’s payment service, according to a report issued last November by consulting firm Ernst & Young and Singaporean bank DBS.

    China is home to eight of the world’s 27 FinTech “unicorns,” including the four most valuable ones. The largest is Ant Financial, an arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, and is valued at US$60 billion. Second is the peer-to-peer lender Lufax (US$18.5 billion), followed by JD Finance (US$7 billion), a joint venture between e-commerce site JD and Tencent, and then installment payment firm Qufenqi (US$5.9 billion).

    The combination of the world’s largest population and the most advanced mobile technologies has made China the leader in mobile payment. According to a survey by iResearch, a Beijing-based provider of online audience measurement and consumer insights in China, China saw the size of third-party mobile payment double in 2016, reaching 38 trillion yuan (US$5.5 trillion), nearly 50 times that of the U.S.

    Two forecasts made respectively by iResearch and Forrester Research, an American market research company, reached an identical conclusion: China will continue to lead the global mobile payment market. By 2019, the market size will grow by 2.6 times in the U.S. while it will increase by 7.4 times in China.

    Another development has further highlighted the prospect of China’s emergence as a cashless nation: China may become the world’s first country to issue digital currency.

    According to media, a special team under the People’s Bank of China has been working since 2014 on the feasibility of fiat digital currency and has achieved some substantial progress. The successful testing of a digital bill business platform based on block chain technology signified that digital currency technology has become practical.

    

    Complex theories and technical terms may sound elusive to untrained minds, but some obvious benefits of digital currency are self-evident. Crimes like money laundering, illegal transactions and transfers will be effectively curbed, and social operations will be more transparent and effective at lower costs.

    A robber will have to leave a shop empty-handed, as there isn’t much cash in it. Some beggars have jumped on the bandwagon, allowing almsgivers to scan QR codes to donate money.

    Of course, there will be a long way to go before the advent of a cashless society. First of all, many legal problems need to be addressed, with some currency-related laws to be amended.

    The biggest concern for common consumers about a cash free era is the security of wealth. If one’s wallet goes missing or is stolen, one could lose hundreds, or thousands yuan, but if your digital account is hacked, you could lose everything.

    In addition, what if we lose our smartphone? We wouldn’t even be able to buy a bus fare to go home!

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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