Chinese Mobile Payments Market Sees QR Code Use Climb Dramatically

December 28, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

The quick response (QR) code is really taking off in China. Given the number of uses we’ve already seen it put to, that’s not exactly much of a surprise, but a closer look at the field makes it clear that this is a dynamic that’s already very much in play. In fact, just one look at a street in one Korean city made that abundantly clear.

A look at Korea Joongang Daily’s examination of Nuwemaru Street in Yeon-Dong, Jeju City, shows the reach of the QR code. Jeju City is located on a Korean tourist island that seems to be popular with the growing Chinese tourist class, and as such, bringing in Chinese mobile payments systems is pretty much a survival mechanism. With Chinese tourists turning to either Alipay or WeChat Pay roughly half the time, as one clerk noted, it becomes vital to have these tools in place.

In place, they most certainly are. Even something as simple as a restaurant specializing in a Korean beef-broth soup known as seollongtang has QR codes geared toward the Chinese mobile payments systems. Around 1,000 total stores on Jeju actually accept the systems as of today. The government of the region pointed out that the mobile payments systems are increasingly used as a means to draw more Chinese tourist trade, which seems to be working.

It’s no surprise to see Jeju push so hard for Chinese tourists; it’s a huge market and it seems to be only getting bigger, though we all know that can’t last forever. There’s a credible point at which there are no more people making enough money to be Chinese tourists, and that’s likely approaching quickly if it hasn’t already hit. But in a society where even streetcorner beggars have QR code pendant necklaces, it’s small surprise that tourist destinations would start stocking the sigils as well.

It’s simply a reflection of changing times, even in China. QR codes are increasingly widely-used, so more businesses put them to use lest they be left behind by the onrush of competitors getting in on the action. This is a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so we’re fairly sure to see more QR codes crop up throughout the region.