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China's Mobile Payment Users Are Overwhelmingly Male

Those with a bachelor’s degree or below also make up large majority of users

February 27, 2017

Digital payment services, led by Alipay and WeChat Pay, have already found a strong user base in China. New research shows these services are strikingly dominated by male users. In a survey conducted in August to November 2016 by the Payment and Clearing Association of China (PCAC), 76.7% of mobile payment users were male—more than three times the number of females. However, the gender gap shrunk slightly in the past year, with PCAC reporting males made up 78.4% of users in 2015.

Demographic Profile of Mobile Payment Users in China, 2015 & 2016 (% of respondents)

Unsurprisingly, people ages 30 and younger also made up a significant proportion of users, accounting for more than three-quarters of them.

Respondents with advanced degrees made up a very small portion of mobile payment users. The vast majority of people using the services had an education level of a bachelor’s degree or below: This demographic accounted for 95.8% of mobile payment users in the 2016 survey. Those with a master’s degree made up 2.6% of users, while PhD earners made up just 1.6%.

PCAC also found respondents most often employed mobile payment services for low-ticket items. Purchases of RMB100 ($15) or less accounted for 77.3% of transactions, while those of RMB1,000 ($150) or more made up just 1.7%.

Not content to remain in China, the country’s larger digital payment companies have been eyeing international expansion. Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, has made a series of moves into overseas markets since the beginning of the year. The company acquired US-based payment service Moneygram in January, and more recently picked up stakes in digital payment companies in both South Korea and the Philippines.

—Rahul Chadha

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