-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanhan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Fun
-
Budding Writers
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Business_Markets
-
Shopping
-
Travel
-
Restaurants
-
Hotels
-
Investment
-
Yearend Review
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Sports
-
World
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
Entertainment
-
Business
-
Markets
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth
China moves closer to cashless society
    2017-July-25  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

ALTHOUGH it is the first time Laura Primiceri has visited China, the British woman has quickly adapted to cashless life in Beijing.

She was aware of the prevalence of China’s mobile payment before her arrival in February and downloaded WeChat Pay and Alipay, the two most popular mobile payment services in China.

“I use them here for payment quite frequently. It’s much better than what we use in England,” Primiceri said.

During five months studying in Beijing, the overseas student learned that the cashless trend was now taking hold in the country with mobile payment often a daily necessity.

Cashless challenges

“The cashless society is what we are moving toward,” said Xiao Ligang, a cab driver in Beijing. “It is irresistible.”

“Almost every taxi driver I know is using WeChat Pay,” Xiao said.

Unlike paying with credit cards in Western countries, China’s cashless payment refers to mobile payment on smartphones.

In Beijing, even senior citizens buy vegetables at the community market with their smartphones; office workers pick up colorful shared bicycles after scanning their QR codes; and street artists provide QR codes for donations.

“Mobile payment saves a lot of time for us and help us effectively avoid counterfeit money,” said Ren Tingting, a cashier at Century Mart, a chain supermarket in Beijing.

Global leading coffee shop chain Starbucks has eyed the huge number of mobile payment users in China and partnered with Chinese Internet giant Tencent to make WeChat mobile payment available in all its coffee shops in China.

To expand its cashless service, Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, plans to launch a cashless promotion week from Aug. 1 to 8, when China will be “1,698 days away from being a true cashless country,” it claims.

During Cashless Society Week, Alipay will throw out various “cashless challenges” and accompanying awards to inspire institutions and individual rallies behind this unprecedented initiative. To date, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Fuzhou and Guiyang — five cities with an aggregate of 38 million population — have signed up for Alipay’s program. With more cities expected to join, the movement is gaining momentum.

By the end of 2016, Alipay’s e-payment solutions had covered 357 Chinese cities.

Alipay expects that “cashless payment” could become another signature achievement of China. With not-so-subtle peer pressure, no competitive cities want to be left behind in attracting tourists and business investments due to a lack of digital payment connectivity. A city can boast a “cashless ecosystem” when 90 percent of its local business and retail consumptions, transportations and public services are based in digital payments.

Subscriptions by local governments to the program would multiply. Experiments abound. Tianjin, a city 137 kilometers away from Beijing, has introduced the concept of “cash-free campuses,” allowing the city’s 700,000 college students to pay their tuitions and other campus expenses with their mobile phones. Alipay-engineered digital cards, in addition to supporting cashless payments on campuses, will phase out physical student IDs.

If implemented on a national scale, the same measure could save colleges an average 300,000 yuan (US$44,034) annually in ID card production, and 10 million yuan in annual costs attributable to card losses.

In China, seeing a doctor is a notoriously difficult ordeal because of the excruciating wait time. In February 2016, Guangzhou Women and Children Medical Center joined force with Alipay and its affiliate Zhima Credit to launch the first “Payment after Treatment” system, making it the country’s first credit friendly hospital.

Patients who score 650 and above by Zhima Credit are entitled to direct registration, diagnosis and treatment, and medical exams and prescription services. Online payments follow the day after treatment.

Alipay expects the program to cut down hospital queues by reducing the average outpatient visit by 52.7 minutes — a 41 percent reduction.

On June 20, Hangzhou initiated the country’s first “facial scan” identification pilot system, allowing patients to convert their biometrics into QR codes, which will serve as their IDs for receiving medical treatments and making cashless payments. The program would benefit Hangzhou’s population of 9 million when fully implemented.

Similarly, Aug. 8 has been designated Cashless Day, an annual activity promoted by WeChat Pay, the e-payment arm of China Internet giant Tencent.

Overseas influences

In addition to China, WeChat Pay covers more than 130,000 overseas businesses in 13 countries and regions, supporting settlements in 10 currencies, including the British pound, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen and Canadian dollar.

Catherine Hou, president of the Chinese Cuisine and Hospitality Association of Canada, said she had been working to make WeChat Pay available at the upcoming Mississauga Mid-Summer Night Music and Food Festival set for July 29 and 30.

“Mobile payment can greatly benefit Chinese tourists coming to spend their summer holiday in Canada, as well as Chinese Canadians, who are active users of Chinese e-payment,” Hou said.

Tourism Toronto announced plans in May to bring WeChat Pay to Toronto.

In addition to WeChat Pay, 450 merchants in Canada are getting access to e-payment solutions offered by Alipay, Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America, announced in Toronto on June 5.

Globally, Alibaba’s e-payment arm, Alipay, has entered more than 200 countries and regions supporting settlements in 18 varieties of currencies with more than 40 million overseas merchants using Alipay for settlement.

“With the mobile payment services in more countries, Chinese tourists tend to carry less cash abroad than before,” said Zhao Kun, a tour guide at CITIC Travel.

Zhao said convenience was the main reason for using mobile payment.

Security concerns

However, the seeming panacea for payment transactions has also aroused security concerns.

Digital payment enables merchants to receive detailed information about consumers, including phone number and email addresses, compared with traditional credit and debit cards, which mainly involve purchases receipts.

“I use mobile payment a lot in China, but I am quite concerned about my privacy,” said Li Xinyu, a student from South Korea at Tsinghua University.

“I am afraid my personal information might be leaked.” Only a small amount of money, about 1,000 to 2,000 yuan, is usually stored in my Alipay account, Li added.

“Maybe a credit card is safer. Alipay or WeChat is more convenient. I am more confident in the use of a credit card because they rarely go wrong. If the battery smartphone dies or there is no Wi-Fi, I cannot use Alipay or WeChat to pay,” Primiceri said.

Although the mobile payment giants are seeking to expand their overseas service, tour guide Zhao Kun told Xinhua that some tourists, especially senior ones, have worries about the safety of paying via Alipay and WeChat when traveling abroad, despite the rising popularity of mobile payment in most North American and Southeast Asian countries.

The Chinese Government is obliged to maintain a fair and square marketing environment and bring the mobile payment enterprises into full play, said Pan Helin, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences. (Xinhua)

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn