China sees rapid growth in proximity mobile payments

eMarketer China
FORECAST: eMarketer predicts ongoing growth for in-store mobile payments in China

The number of Chinese consumers making in-store mobile payments more than doubled last year and almost half of all smartphone users in the country will be making proximity mobile payments by 2020, according to research released by eMarketer.

There will be 195.3m people using the technology in 2016, representing a 45.8% growth over last year, the company’s estimates of mobile payment usage in China also reveal. In comparison, the US will be home to 37.5m proximity mobile payment users this year.

“Proximity mobile payments are payments made at the point of sale by tapping, swiping or checking in with a mobile phone,” the company says. “China’s rapid adoption of proximity payments is in part thanks to its late-mover advantage — unlike the US and other regions, China does not have a strong entrenched credit card culture.”

Straight to mobile

“In effect, China has jumped directly from cash to mobile payments,” the company adds. “In addition, urban areas in China have seen widespread adoption of Alipay and Tenpay. Also helping to drive the growth of proximity payments is the rising number of digital buyers in China making purchases on smartphones.

“Smartphone buyers in China — people who make at least one purchase through a web browser or app during a calendar year — will account for more than 72% of smartphone users in 2016.”

“Despite having a higher penetration rate than the US, China’s proximity mobile payments market still remains largely untapped, with usage mostly in concentrated larger cities,” says Shelleen Shum, eMarketer forecasting analyst. “The challenge is to get retailers to upgrade their systems to accept mobile payment methods at the POS.

“The phenomenal opportunity for retailers is that smartphone users in China are more willing to store payment information in their phones and are more willing to experiment with other forms of noncash payments than users in most other countries.”

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