New data from Alipay show 82% of the transactions on its platform in 2017 were made via mobile payments, mostly through smart phones. This ratio is said to be an all-time high.
There were 520 million Alipay users in China, or around 37% of the country’s population, in 2017. Alibaba’s payment unit provides services which allow payments both through computers and through mobile devices.
Across the country, Alipay users in northern province of Shanxi and southwestern province of Guizhou appear to be the most dependent on mobile devices, with mobile payments accounting for 92% of their transactions over the past year.
Over 90% of the transactions made by users in more than 10 different provincial regions were conducted through mobile devices.
Mobile payments, which usually begin by scanning a quick response code, have rapidly become popular in China through the past few years.
The rise of mobile payments has been partly backed by easier access to quick response, or QR codes. More than 40 million small retailers across China, according to Alipay, established their own quick response codes in 2017.
Most of the codes used in the country, however, are not domestically developed. It’s estimated Japanese codes accounted for 65% of the market share in China.
The growth of mobile payments has also partly come from an advance in mobile internet technology.
3G is lowest-level technology to be capable of supporting mobile payments. However, data compiled by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology show 4G users account for 70% of China’s cell phone users, up from 55% as of the end of 2016.
Apart from private business, mobile payment is also making inroads into public services in China.
Bus and subway networks in more than 30 Chinese cities began allowing passengers to pay fares via Alipay through 2017. Alipay says over 200 million people have used its platform to pay for things like electricity, gas and water through 2017.
Mobile payment is dramatically cutting down the use of physical cash in China.
Alibaba has reported that the number of searches for wallets on its online shopping platforms has seen a decline for the first time in 2017.
In March, 2017, two men only ended up netting around 2,000 yuan, or just over 300 U.S. dollars, in cash after robbing three convenience stores in Hangzhou, Alibaba’s base center.
Data from iResearch, a Shanghai-based market research firm, and Forrester, a Nasdaq-listed market research firm, suggest the size of China of mobile payment market was 90 times larger than that of the US in 2016.