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eMarketer Projects Surge in Mobile Payments in China

Cash is on the way out in the Middle Kingdom

November 2, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

According to eMarketer’s latest proximity mobile payment forecast, more than three-quarters (76.3%) of smartphone users in China will use a phone to pay for goods and services at the point of sale (POS) in 2017. China is moving toward a cashless society as the benefits of using mobile phones to pay offline becomes ubiquitous in cities and spreads to rural areas.

Proximity Mobile Payment Users and Penetration in China, 2016-2021 (millions, % change and % of smartphone users)

Proximity Mobile Payment Users and Penetration in China, 2016-2021 (millions, % change and % of smartphone users)

eMarketer has raised its projections by more than 86.0% for 2017, and now expects 461.4 million people in the country to use a phone to pay at the POS.

China is a world leader in mobile payments. By 2021, 79.3% of smartphone users will be tapping, scanning and swiping at the POS. By comparison, the US will have 31.0% of users doing so, and that figure will be 23.0% in Germany.

“Mobile payments at the POS appeals to the Chinese consumer, as it is perceived to be faster, more convenient and safer than cash,” said Shelleen Shum, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

“With incentives for both users and merchants by incumbents WeChat Pay and Alipay, adoption has spread rapidly. Even those living in the rural areas are starting to adopt this method of payment, and the speed with which China has transitioned away from cash is truly remarkable and has lessons for other countries moving toward a cashless society.”

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