No cash? No problem(2)

2016-09-01 10:57China Daily Editor: Xu Shanshan ECNS App Download
Clockwise from top left: He buys a bus ticket using Alipay, enjoys a snack paid for with an app, rents an umbrella at Hangzhou East Railway Station, and buys a bouquet of flowers at Wushan Flower and Fish Market. (Photo/China Daily)

Clockwise from top left: He buys a bus ticket using Alipay, enjoys a snack paid for with an app, rents an umbrella at Hangzhou East Railway Station, and buys a bouquet of flowers at Wushan Flower and Fish Market. (Photo/China Daily)

When asked if he would rather carry 10,000 yuan ($1,500) in cash or rely on a smartphone, Derksen was quick to pick the latter, although he conceded that most of his compatriots may not necessarily agree with him.

Derksen, who was born in Marienheide, a municipality near Cologne, said that Germans are by comparison relatively skeptical of using mobile payments methods. Instead, they prefer to use cash and debit cards.

"I used to work at German bank Sparkasse and I found it extremely difficult to persuade people to use credit payments in their daily lives. German people are unwilling to take risks, and they don't want to make any changes in their lives."

Derksen said his experience at the bank taught him that there is no such thing as absolute security when it comes to money matters.

"Traditionally, people think banks are the safest place to save their money, and that it is risky to try a new payment method. But when I started working at the bank in 2008, I discovered that banks were the first to suffer from the subprime mortgage crisis," he said.

Derksen praised the designers of Alipay for being "smart and considerate", saying that although the intuitive app allows users to easily make payments, it also has robust security features including fingerprint or facial recognition.

"I really want to show this Chinese mobile payment technology to my parents and my friends in Germany," he said.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel is coming to Hangzhou for the G20 Summit, and I really hope she can see how advanced China is in mobile payment technology. I think many countries can learn a lot from China in this sector."

A report by Alipay showed that the most popular function utilized by foreign users like Derksen is money transfers, with up to 79 percent of these users having performed such a transaction. Other popular functions include recharging cellphone credit (33 percent), and payment of taxi fares (18.5 percent) and utility bills (10 percent).

Meanwhile, 32.3 percent of Alipay users have purchased account safety insurance, indicating that the majority of foreign users seem confident of the security the app affords.

According to Ant Financial, the operator of Alipay, usage among expatriates on the Chinese mainland this year has increased considerably on 2015. It noted that nearly 30 percent of expats are Alipay users, and that almost 40 percent of foreign users have used Koubei, an online-to-offline platform also operated by Ant Financial.

Ant Financial is a subsidiary of internet giant Alibaba, which is headquartered in Hangzhou. Apart from Alipay, the company also runs fund management platform Yu'ebao, third-party financial services platform Zhaocaibao, private online bank Mybank, microloan provider Ant Micro Loan and Sesame Credit, the nation's first private credit-rating system.

Chris Powers, an expatriate from the United States who lives in Shanghai, said he often leaves home without any cash in his pockets these days, thanks to the convenience that mobile payment applications like Alipay afford. He added that many of his American friends in the city of Hangzhou also frequently use the app.

"I've been able to get through stretches of three to four days in Shanghai using no cash at all. I can pay for cabs, food orders, supermarket purchases and drinks at bars as long as I have my mobile phone," said Powers, who started to use Alipay about a year ago.

Selwyn Low, a Singaporean who works at a multinational advertising agency in Shanghai, said he uses the mobile payment app almost every day. "It's so convenient to use a mobile phone to pay my utility bills. I no longer need to open envelopes to check my bill," he said.

Low, who started using Alipay about two years ago when he lived in Beijing, added that his life in China has become much easier with the proliferation of mobile payment applications. "Singapore is pretty modern, but the cashless scene back home is still in its infancy compared with China. I'm very impressed that I'm able to do so much with my mobile phone in China. It's really nothing like I've ever experienced."


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