Beijing Diary: China’s cashless transactions impressive

By Amirul Mohd Sajadi
Bernama reporter Amirul Mohd Sajadi is currently participating in a 10-month programme in Beijing organised by the China International Press Communications Centre.
BEIJING: Since my arrival in the Chinese capital in February, I have hardly ever carried cash in my wallet.

Sometimes I even forget to take my wallet with me when I go out. No worries, I can still go shopping as long as I have my mobile phone with me.

This is because in China, e-payment applications such as WeChat Pay and Alipay are widely used and the locals, regardless of age, go for cashless payment transactions. They do most of their transactions by using their mobile phones to scan the Quick Response (QR) code.

In China, most of the transactions are done by using the smartphone to scan the Quick Response (QR) code. Photo: Bernama

Even more startling is the fact that beggars scrounging for money in this metropolis need not extend their palms to beg for alms. Instead, they just have to display their QR code to the public in the hope that some kind people would give them money by scanning the code with their mobile phones.

The cashless applications are not only limited to shopping centres and purchasing public transportation tickets but can be used for any transaction, even if it is just to buy RMB0.50 worth of sweets at a sundry shop.

According to the People’s Bank of China, mobile transactions worth a whopping $41.51 trillion (RM 174.24 trillion) were registered in the country in 2018, with the payments sanctioned through applications such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.

The total sum showed a 28-fold increase compared with the $1. 67 billion in mobile transactions recorded five years ago.

Alipay and WeChat Pay control about 92 per cent of the domestic mobile payment market, with each of them having more than one billion active users all over the world.

Aliya Nadirah Abdullah, 26, paying for her subway train ticket using the cashless app Alipay, at a machine in the Wukesong Station, Beijing. Photo: Bernama

Wang Meihe, 27, who works in a private company here, said the last time she used cash to pay for her purchases was in 2016.

“I haven’t used cash in a long time because I feel it is not easy to control my spending when I use cash.

“… but with applications like Alipay and WeChat Pay, my expenditure is recorded which makes it easier for me to manage my finances,” she told Bernama.

In terms of e-payment platforms, Malaysia is not too far behind either.

The increasing use of digital platforms for services such as e-hailing and e-commerce in Malaysia has accelerated online banking and payment.

According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) statistics, a total of 833.9 million transactions were made through Internet banking from January to December 2018, compared with 741.9 million throughout 2017 and 588.2 million in 2016.

In its Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, BNM aims to increase the number of e-payment transactions per capita from 44 to 200 and reduce the use of cheques by more than half from 207 million to 100 million per year by 2020.

This is something to be proud of because soon we will become a cashless society.

However, the question is whether Malaysians are ready for the transformation.

The Y and Z generations will not have much of a problem migrating to electronic payments but how about senior citizens and rural communities?

In order to move towards being a cashless society, telecommunications and technology companies must improve Internet access nationwide, especially in rural areas.

This is crucial in ensuring smooth e-transactions. If payment terminals are constantly out of service or technical problems crop up frequently, it will deter people from using e-payment applications in their daily transactions. – Bernama

A busker in China displays his unique QR code to collect donations, which the public can make via the cashless payment app WeChat Pay. Photo: Bernama