Cash is history. Whether its ordering groceries from our smartphone or using it to pay for the bus, these companies and services are changing the way we pay for goods and services. 

6 hours spent online per day: China’s mobile population in numbers
Chinese mobile users are spending more time than ever on their devices, according to a report published by research firm QuestMobile on Thursday. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of last November, each user spent an average of 6.2 hours a day – or 1.8 full days a week – using mobile devices to get online. The number represents an 11.3% increase over the same period last year, data from QuestMobile showed.  The average number of apps they used per month also increased from 21.3 in 2018 to 23.6 in 2019, according to the report. 6.2 hours Average time Chinese users spend on their mobile devices per day A separate report by research firm eMarketer in May last year estimated that the average
I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
“You might not have to make that trip to the bank after all,” Rob, a friend, messaged me over WeChat the other day. He attached a press release saying Alipay had launched an international version of its mobile payments platform for visitors to China. Named “Tour Pass,” the app can be used for up to 90 days and could prove handy for me, as I had moved from Hong Kong to Beijing for three months just over a month ago. The last time I lived in Beijing, five years ago while studying at Peking University, cash was still currency, shared bikes did not exist and people did not have their morning Starbucks delivered via an app. Since then China has transformed into an almost cashless society at an ex
Will tourists in China wake up to mobile payments?
Last week, China’s main payment apps, Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant Financial’s Alipay, opened their mobile payment systems to a demographic that had previously been left out: international tourists.  In China, mobile payments are used to pay for almost everything from $0.25 steamed buns at a takeout joint to sending prisoners money, highlighting the huge gap that exists between this system and the payment habits of 140 million annual tourists from overseas, who may be more used to cash or credit cards. Inkstone is owned by Alibaba, whose affiliate Ant Financial operates Alipay.  But will providing access be enough to convert tourists to start scanning QR codes?  How does mobile payments work
Inkstone index: China’s digital cash gifts
688 million: the number of people who sent or received digital red envelopes – gifts of money – on Lunar New Year’s day last year. Digital payment has become a matter of course in shops and restaurants in most Chinese cities. Once reliant on cash, China’s consumers have leapfrogged the use of credit cards to adopt smartphone payment technologies such as WeChat Pay and Alipay. Alipay’s owner, Alibaba, also owns Inkstone. China’s cashless revolution has spared few facets of society, including the traditional giving and receiving of red envelopes – or hongbao – containing money and well wishes. Users of WeChat Pay and Alipay can now send digital red envelopes to anyone they want, a feature the
Prison inmates’ families can now send them cash digitally
China’s mobile payment craze has finally reached behind bars.  The Beijing Prison Administration has rolled out a digital payment system that allows family members to send money to inmates with their mobile phones, according to an online announcement. The service is part of a new digital financial management system at across the Beijing prison system, powered by the popular mobile payment platforms Alipay and WeChat Pay, according to the announcement.  Relatives of current prisoners will have to verify their identity before they can transfer funds to their accounts.  The service, dubbed “prison pay” in Chinese, will be connected to the administration’s in-prison shopping and medical service
China’s vast cashless economy is leaving people behind
Cash may be king, but electronic payment has its eyes on the throne. In the United States, salad chain Sweetgreen went entirely cashless in 2017. Following suit were other chains, including Tender Greens and Dos Toros.  At the end of last year, burger restaurant Shake Shack tested out a cashless kiosk system. But it’s true that all these outlets cater to tech-savvy crowd. There’s a risk that the older generations are getting left behind. Nowhere is that more obvious than in China, where mobile payment is becoming increasingly mandatory. An argument between staff at a cashless supermarket in northern China and an elderly man who did not know how to use his smartphone to buy a bunch of grapes
The story of China’s everything app
WeChat isn’t just the Chinese version of WhatsApp. It’s so much more: an app that allows you to do everything from play games, to read the news, pay for meals… even make an appointment to file for divorce. With more than one billion monthly active user accounts, it’s not an overstatement to say that WeChat is an indispensable part of everyday life in China. But in the last few months investors have been questioning whether Tencent, the behemoth owner of the ubiquitous app, has lost its mojo – worries borne out by the company's recent lackluster earnings, announced yesterday. Here’s how WeChat went from simple messenger to China’s most popular mobile app. Humble start WeChat, or Weixin as it’
Mobile payment is easy. Just ask the man who paid $23,000 for two buns
In much of urban China, cash is a thing of the past. Payment using your phone – not even credit cards – is king. For businesses, one reason to embrace electronic payment is that it induces people to spend more than they would spend their cold, hard cash. Enter this steamed bun takeaway joint in Central China. At Bian Liang Da Tang Bao in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, a single bun costs 1.5 yuan – about 25 cents. But one customer last month dropped $23,000 (147,258 yuan, to be exact) on an order for two of them.  The mobile payment transaction took place on April 2, according to the China News Service, the country’s second largest state-run news agency. For a month, no one came forward to