China Hits 557 Million Mobile Consumers, 304 Million Use Smartphones for Payments

February 6, 2015         By: Michael Cheng

Statistics found in the latest report from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) suggests exponential growth for the country’s mobile market.

In 2014, China’s smartphone internet users rose by 11.4 percent. But according to TechCrunch, these numbers may not be entirely accurate due to missing data on dual SIM cards.

Nevertheless, the official report is still impressive. Based on the country’s general population, analysts expect the figures to go even higher in the next 3-4 years.

China’s mobile banking sector influence correlates with CNNIC’s announcement, growing over 69.2 percent last year. Nearly half of the country’s 304 million payments consumers use a handheld device to initiate online transactions.

A surge in mobile adoption also means increased competition between local tech companies, with Alibaba and Tencent both acquiring licenses to open online banks some time this year.

Alibaba’s dominating role as China’s leading mobile payments provider largely contributed to the 73.2 percent increase in the market. When it comes to mobile apps, the vast majority of users lean toward instant messaging and gaming, which are being offered by Tencent’s widely popular WeChat app.

Unexpectedly, the performance of mobile travel booking apps caught everyone by surprise, jumping as high as 194.6 percent. Emerging trends that have reached the mainstream includes online-to-offline (O2O) offerings, i.e. ticket sales, food deliveries, and miscellaneous services.

Backed by top level investors such as Baidu, developments in the medical and real estate space may help mobile services diversify and cater to mature demographics.

Companies outside of China are also trying to enter the high-yielding market. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made several trips to China, hoping to ‘unlock’ areas where its online services are being blocked. He also held closed-door meetings with various establishments to boost advertising in the country.