It makes nothing but sense...Mobile Payment...
Chinese New Year is around the corner, every place in China and lots of places in the work have been in the CNY mode. People are rushing out to get all the stuff ready to welcome the New Year Eveand the Spring Festival. I also packed my stuff and flew back to my howntown in China to enjoy the great moment to stay with families and hang out with friends whom I have't been seeing for almost one year. I am exited...
However, the first thing stunned me is not my friends but the mobile payment service seen at almost any corner I have been. It just makes nothing but sense to use the mobile payment service here. This feeling happened to me just all of a sudden.
The story begun in the next morning after I came back. I was getting up a bit late and wanted to go out for breakfast. When I reached the counter in a small breakfast booth besides a street and was about to place my order, I noticed there are a couple of QR codes on the wall. This is obvious to sense since I am an IT guy. These two QR codes from two different mobile payment giants in China -- WeChat Pay and Alipay. The relationship between them is just like the relationship between Mc'Donalds and KFC, the place where you can see WeChat Pay, you would see Alipay as well most probably. So I approached the servant and asked whether I could pay with WeChat, she said yes without hesitation but with some surprise(I guess it's because this service is available in China for a few years and I am still asking this kind of dumb question). I opened my WeChat app and scanned the QR code, entered the amount to pay(quite cheap actually) and confirmed the payment. Thereafter a soft sound saying "You received a payment of ..." coming behind the account desk, the transaction was completed successfully and I could wait and enjoy my breakfast. What a natural but amazing payment experience. I no need to get my cash out and count the amount of money to pay, all I need to do is just a few clicks on the phone.
The story continues, after finishing the breakfast, I stopped by a small supermarket and planned to buy some drinks, so I started to choose my goods and proceeded for the payment. This time I asked the servant again to see whether she could accept WeChat payment because I didn't see there is a QR code for WeChat Pay this time though I saw the one for Alipay. She replied with a positive answer again and held a barcode-scanner like scanner and asked me to open my WeChat app and showing my QR code to her so that she can scan that with her scanner. Wow, totally different method now but same good experience, easy, fast and secure(because I got a notification about my purchase details).
Later in the afternoon, I was in contact with one of my best high school classmates and wanted to pay a visit to him. Unsurprisingly I opened WeChat and found the app for booking a taxi called DiDi which is similar to Uber. And after I arrived I could pay with WeChat Pay as well. For all the rest of the day including dinner, the taxi to back home, we all used WeChat Pay. The only exception was the subway system ticket we bought which we could either use a card or buy ticket with cash.
Thereafter I decided that I would try to choose mobile payment all the time to see how long I can live without spending any cash. And the story is still going on. Every place I go I can find the QR code. It seems it has been too natural so that people would be surprised if some merchants don't accept mobile payment. What a change, isn't it?
And now I understand that China is going to really change the world with its mobile payment service/experience. Why would other countries not like to use mobile payment service? Smart phones have been a necessity for almost every modern people. If you have a smart phone, a new app would be no big deal and if you can use that to pay easily, why would you not choose to pay with that?
It's a "shame" that many developed countries haven't fully adopted this kind service yet. Like in Singapore where I have stayed for over a decade. In the past, people were using credit cards to pay whatever they buy and many bank officials would call everyone to promote their this or that credit card with various kinds of benefits such as yearly fee waive, rebate and free gifts etc. Frequently many people end up getting 4-5 credit cards which most of them are never getting used but cancelled after half a year. Later, some banks developed some mobile apps which can be used to pay small amount of money to another person. This is a huge improvement but still with its limitations. The major one is this application is developed by one bank, hence to make the payment, each party on both ends need to have a bank account at the this bank. However, not everyone has an account in this bank. After sometime, people started to forget about this application(It's doomed). In early 2017, government called up some banks to come out another service called PayNow which some banks are involved in to provide a unified payment service where you can make payment to others as long as you know their mobile phone number. OK, another step forward but still with lots of limitations. For example, you cannot go shopping with it.
Until recently, changes are happening. Alipay is getting into this country, and now and then people can see QR code with the Alipay logo showing in some shops and they can accept Alipay now. But lots of the merchants are more or less related to China. They either sell Chinese goods or are owned by Chinese. For other merchants, they may not understand this service yet, it takes time for them to accept this new stuff because this is the first time for them to see something that they have never used before. But the trend will never be reverted. They will be sucked into this payment change soon I guess. Even the government officials are envying the progress of the mobile payment development in China and they are actively engaging their people to cooperate with Chinese service providers to upgrade their service.
But before we can celebrate this, let's look back a bit and consider about the never-ever-changing concern about security and privacy. If everything we purchase is going to be paid with the mobile payment service, all our transactions will be recorded by these service providers, the service provider would know when and where we bought what. This would be a huge gain for them since they would know our consumption habits and they would provide some target advertisement service in one day after they collect enough data. How can this be resolved? Regulations and laws have been in place to protect the data, this is the biggest concern other countries would have on this kind service provided by China(We would cover the concerns for this kind of service to be adopted abroad in a future post).
Another side effect is that with the convenience of this, people would tend to spend more and more. Good or bad? Who knows.
But nevertheless mobile payment makes nothing but sense and we would soon see that it would become part of our life not only in China but also in the rest of the world.
When two cars are competing for the same lane, the unexpected happens.