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In China, a growing middle class and expanded mobile and internet penetration have driven digital banking usage, with mobile banking growing leaps and bounds. Several tech firms based in China have gained substantial usage of their mobile financial service offerings, which provide better returns and more flexibility than similar products offered by traditional institutions.
The official government estimate of online banking usage came from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in December 2013. It found that 40.5% of the country’s more than 600 million internet users had used online banking.
Other studies from iResearch Consulting Group and Ipsos OTX pegged online banking usage at closer to seven in 10 internet users. CNNIC doesn’t provide details behind its estimate, but it seems likely that the reason its number is so much lower is that it surveyed a broader population, including rural users, while the other firms focused on internet users primarily in urban areas.
A similarly broad range of estimates applies to mobile banking usage in China. CNNIC reported that 23.4% of mobile internet users had used mobile banking apps as of December 2013, while Bain & Company found that 60.0% of bank customers had used mobile banking in August 2013—the most out of any country the firm surveyed. Other estimates fell in the middle of this spectrum, from 30.0% of mobile buyers to 48.0% of internet users, likely representing more realistic mobile banking adoption rates in the country.
While eMarketer expects 80.0% of China’s 1.36 billion citizens to use mobile phones by the end of 2014, just 38.5% of residents will be smartphone users—a relatively low penetration rate compared with more developed economies but greater than other emerging Asia-Pacific countries like Indonesia and India—ultimately amounting to more than 500 million smartphone users.
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