Alipay Talks to the 90s Kids About Mobile Payments Use, Finances in General

August 5, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Those born between 1990 and 1999 are truly their own animal. It’s no different in China, and our friends at Ant Financial sent out a recent study built around the attitudes and choices of what it calls “the post-90s generation”. What the study revealed was that mobile payments are still a big part of the package, and some real surprises came along as well.

The post-90s generation, the Alipay study revealed, started managing their own money at 23, which is about a decade earlier than their parents did. Given that a good chunk of the post-90s generation isn’t even 23 yet, this is something of a surprise. Averages do help overcome the fact that about a third of the study isn’t actually 23 yet.

The post-90s generation is also proving surprisingly resistant to consumerism; 90 percent noted that they do not buy things they don’t need. All that spare cash is going to good use, though; 80 percent of those studied who use Alipay’s online consumer lending service Huabei also use the spare cash management system Yu’e Bao.

Their investment actually, on average, accounts for about 4.5 times what is borrowed from the lending platform. If that sounds off to you too—why would they even borrow at all when they could use the cash they would have invested to cover whatever they were going to borrow?—there’s a simple explanation. As it turns out, Huabei has an interest-free period for its lending, so borrowers can repay the loans and take advantage of the cash saved to put it back into Yu’e Bao’s investment operations.

There’s a lot to take away from a study like this. First, Alipay is likely pretty happy that it’s diversified right now, because a generation of almost homicidally zealous savers is not exactly good territory for mobile payments. Second, it’s hard to tell whether this is good for China overall or not; while there’s certainly virtue in thrift, too much thrift becomes the makings of economic catastrophe.

The Alipay study is a mix of good news and bad news that may represent a crash in the making or possibly a revitalized China, depending on how pervasive the studied folks’ attitudes are. Still, it’s a point worth knowing.