Mobile commerce is taking its time to infiltrate the market both here in the UK and in the United States, but in China there seems to be no such issue. Alibaba's Alipay saw more than half of its transactions completed over mobile devices in the first ten months of 2014. That's a huge growth - up from just 22 per cent of transactions in the previous year.
Alipay's Paypal like service, has a staggering 300 million plus registered users, and have had some 190 million downloads of its mobile wallet. More than half of its customers are now completing their transactions with Alipay (online orders primarily) using their mobile. Perhaps what's most intersting about this growth in China is how it mirrors the difference we have seen between developed and under developed countries in the past.
There are African nations who have adopted mobile payments at a staggering rate, because mobile commerce has proven to be the most flexible and accessible solution in areas where there is less traditional established infrastructure, be it banking or wired telecoms. Whereas in US and Europe, with widespread communications networks and well established traditional banking, the rate in which mobile commerce is being adopted is much slower. The benefits of switching to mobile commerce are still there in more developed countries, but consumers, while still satisfied by traditional means, need more convincing.
China being so big, actually demonstrates this precise paradigm within itself. In the rural regions of China, such as Tibet, Shaanix and Ningxia, with limited access to fix communications, growth of mobile commerce has been at its highest. In those 3 areas, percentage of transactions on mobile were as high as 62, 60 and 58 per cent respectively. In the larger cities however, percentage of mobile transactions where lower: 29 percent in Beijing and 24 percent in Shanghai for example.
China is fast emerging as the leading market for mobile payments, and with Alibaba looking to partner with Apple, and the government-owned UnionPay bringing its own mobile payments solution to Android devices next year, that leadership is set to continue.
By Matthew Taylor 10th December 2014
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