Thanks to affordable, powerful smartphones, mobile payments are taking off in China,

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Mobile ecommerce is on it way to becoming the most popular way of shopping online in China, as more people than ever before embrace the new technology. Giant Chinese online shopping company Alibaba revealed that more than half of its transactions are now made on mobile devices using its own payment service. Interestingly, the mobile wallet app, Alipay, is growing faster in China’s smaller and more remote towns than it is in major cities. It’s thanks in part to the many affordable, powerful smartphones now available to buy.

The number of purchases made with Alipay skyrocketed from just 22 percent last year, to 54 percent in just the first 1o months of 2014. Alipay now has 300 million registered users and its mobile wallet app has been downloaded more than 190 million times. The news follows Alibaba’s announcement on Singles Day on November 11, the biggest online shopping day in the world, when 42 percent of its sales were made on a mobile device, up from 21 percent in 2013. The rise of mobile ecommerce in China corresponds with the growing trend toward mobile device use.

Earlier this year, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported that 83.4 percent of people access the Internet primarily through their mobile devices. Mobile Web traffic surpassed desktop PC use by nearly 4 percent. As such, it’s hardly surprising that Alibaba recorded such a huge jump in mobile purchases made with Alipay.

What is surprising is the parts of China in which mobile purchases are on the rise. People in remote parts of the country like Tibet, Shaanxi, and Ningxia are actually using mobile devices to buy goods and services more often than people in cities. Respectively, 62 percent, 60 percent, and 58 percent of transactions were made on mobile devices in each area. Meanwhile, larger, more urban areas like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong saw slightly smaller increases in mobile purchases. Mobile transactions accounted for just 29 percent, 24 percent, and 27 percent in each area.

Even so, given the incredibly high population density in these areas, those small percentages represent large numbers of people and even larger numbers of transactions. Alibaba stated that more than 55 percent of Alipay’s total transactions come from the most technologically advanced provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Beijing.

As the number of affordable and powerful smartphones continues to grow in China, mobile Web traffic and mobile transactions are likely to continue their swift rise. Homegrown smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Meizu have focused on creating low-cost smartphones with powerful processors, which has brought mobile connectivity to groups of people and areas that wouldn’t normally have had access to the Internet.


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