China’s mobile payments are soaring. China’s central bank transferred nearly US$1.59 trillion in funds last year and registered 1.67 billion transactions.
The People’s Bank of China has published statistics showing a remarkable 213% year-over-year growth, and an over 300 percent rise in denomination. For the sake of comparison, e-payments from desktop computers totaled $1.77 trillion. The latter increased by less than 30% in 2013—significantly more slowly than mobile.
That’s likely because 75% of China’s 564M person (and growing) online population accesses the Web via mobile devices. Smartphone and tablet use is steadily increasing, while desktop PCs and laptop computers are becoming less popular.
Mobile payments in China are being used for e-commerce, which has boomed over the past several years. In-app payments are likewise experiencing remarkable growth. Emoticon stickers and games are immensely popular among China’s popular WeChat messaging app users, which now number over 500 million.
There’s also immense potential for mobile advertising. The rapid growth of Chinese online represents an unparalleled marketing opportunity for global brands to tap into an audience that may not have been exposed to their products before.
China’s embrace of mobile payments is significant, because it’s the world’s largest laboratory for what a cashless society might look like and what solutions will stick as fragmentation gives way to standards.