I ditched my purse last month in China as I wanted to put mobile banking to the test.
I was there to launch a countrywide digital campaign for a well-known Australian skincare company and thought I wanted to show people how powerful mobile pay is in China.
For five days I paid for everything on my Android phone using AliPay and WeChat – taxis, food, hotel bills, shopping – basically everything.
It all worked perfectly.
Peer-to-peer banking is the all-time disruptor for every market, in every country.
It’s one of the areas Apple is focusing on when it announced upgrades to its mobile pay app Apple Pay this month.
You can now send and receive money from your friends through iMessage with a Touch ID to make sure the transfers are secure.
But while China is accepting mobile payment with gusto, ApplePay take-up in Australia is still slow with consumers preferring credit cards for purchases in stores, for services, and online.
AliPay and WeChat are the mobile apps of choice for most Chinese.
Alipay is owned by Alibaba and has had the lion’s share of the online payment market for some time.
According to Statista, Alipay held almost 70% of the market in China in 2015.
Alipay can be used not only for Alibaba’s e-commerce sites, but also in many other Chinese and international businesses.
When used online, Alipay provides an escrow service – where payments for goods made by buyers are only released to the seller once the goods are acknowledged as having been received.
Alipay’s mobile payment app allows for instant payments by scanning barcodes or QR codes on smartphones.
In 2013, Alipay also introduced sound wave technology, which allows users to pay for items from vending machines in subways by simply holding their smartphones in front of the machine’s sensors.
WeChat, the Chinese social platform owned by Tencent, currently ranks top amongst mobile app users in China.
This is largely due to the wide range of services it offers – from quick payments and m-commerce to holiday and restaurant bookings, and plenty more as well.
It has developed virtual wallet systems that allow users to make instant online, in-store and vending machine payments, and generally go about their day-to-day lives without needing to carry cash or a physical wallet.
This mobile payment app started out as a chat app in 2011, but it now has some amazing capabilities.
This includes allowing account holders to pay bills and fines, make bookings, pay their share of group bills at restaurants, and send ‘red packet’ money to friends at Chinese New Year.
While still the market leader, Alipay has experienced a slowing down of growth.
However, it seems likely that both platforms will continue to operate at the top of the market, as each is useful for different situations.
So, I’m a mobile payee convert.