Chinese Mobile Payment Market Clears $3.46 Trillion in Three Months

October 6, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

We all knew that mobile payments in China were rapidly gaining ground. The sheer amount of things that Alipay has done in that space was proof enough, and it almost seems like a big day when there isn’t something to talk about from Alipay. A new report from the Xinhua news agency, a state-run operation, says that the anecdotal is quite quantifiable, and in a very big way.

The third-party mobile payment market in China, Xinhua noted, hit right around 23 trillion yuan, or about $3.46 trillion US as of the time of that report. That’s up 22.5 percent from the same time a year prior, and cited a combination of growing e-commerce transactions and generally increased financial trading as the primary reasons for the growth evidenced.

The Xinhua report also told us something that most already knew: Alibaba and Tencent currently dominate the market. Xinhua then offered a closer look, noting the duo accounted for fully 92.8 percent of the Chinese mobile payments market by themselves. The difference between the two, however, was fairly narrow, with Alipay—Alibaba’s service—garnering 53.7 percent, while Tencent’s offering took home 39.1 percent. There are other payment services on hand, of course, but these are struggling to take whole-number percentages home.

With around 724 million mobile phone users in the country as of the end of June, and around 35 percent of these regularly using mobile payments services, the end result is a whole lot of mobile payments taking place. The dollar figure alone is astonishing, and that’s just from one quarter.

It’s clear that mobile payments are going to be a big deal in China—they already are—and that really underscores why mobile payments security is getting to be such a big deal in China. We’re talking about a multi-trillion dollar market. If a hacker could skim off what effectively amounted to a rounding error, something in the tenth-of-a-percent range, it would still be enough loot to effectively set that hacker up for life.

That’s a plum target, and that means hackers will be descending on this market full-force if they haven’t done so already. Will Chinese mobile payment security be up to the task? Only time will tell, but with so much at stake, it had better be ready.