On Tuesday, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial service affiliate, released its 2015 Alipay consumer spending report. Alipay is a business operated by Ant Financial and China’s largest third-party online payment service provider. This annual report sheds light on the online consumption behavior of Chinese people and the penetration of mobile internet in China.
1. Shanghai tops the list
Shanghai residents topped the list by spending an average of RMB 104,155 (USD 15,832) per person on Alipay in 2015, more than any other provincial-level regions in China. Zhejiang province followed closely at RMB 94,192, with Beijing, Jiangsu province and Fujian province tailing behind.
In terms of total payment volume by provincial-level regions, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Beijing ranked top five on the list, while central and western provinces including Anhui, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Henan and Guizhou had the highest year-on-year growth by total volume.
The top 100 counties that spent the highest amount on average were from Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian provinces.
2. 65% of transactions made through mobile devices
With ongoing advances in mobile Internet technology and the booming of the Chinese smartphone market, spurred by domestic phone makers Huawei and Xiaomi, Chinese people continue to shift from desktop PCs to smartphones. According to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center, there were 594 million mobile netizens as of mid-2015, an increase of 36.79 million in just half a year.
Alipay found that 65% of consumer transactions were made through mobile devices. Compared with 2014, mobile payment grew by 15.8%. More consumers in rural areas used their mobile devices to pay for online shopping. Tibet saw the highest proportion of mobile payments at 83.3%.
3. Food delivery and ride hailing
“Food delivery” and “ride hailing” were buzzwords among Chinese residents, owing to the rise of companies like DidiKuaidi, Uber, Meituan and Ele.me. Residents from Hangzhou, Wuhan, Wenzhou and Shanghai ordered the most food online in 2015. People spent an average of RMB 20 on every ride they ordered on Alipay. Residents of Hangzhou ordered 11.4% of the rides in China, followed by Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. It is not surprising that Hangzhou ranked first, because in late 2015, the number of daily Uber orders in Hangzhou ranked fifth globally.
4. Enormous overseas consumption
In 2015, overseas purchases made by Chinese online shoppers, commonly known as Haitao, reached RMB 844 per person. Guangdong residents made the most overseas purchases, accounting for 11.6% of total national transactions. Zhejiang province comes closely on Guangdong’s heels at 10%. First-tier cities led the nation in terms of online overseas spending, but there is an increase of shoppers from second- and third-tier cities buying products from overseas online retailers.
Overall, Chinese residents spent RMB 1,285 on average on Alipay when shopping overseas. 72% of consumers making overseas purchases were female shoppers.
Residents in many less-developed cities had stronger overseas purchasing power, judging by the amount they spent on a single purchase.
5. People in small cities favor red envelopes
Red envelopes, or “hongbao”, is a way to transfer small amounts of money online as gifts. They became a hit on social network Wechat after Chinese New Year in 2014. Alipay launched their own red envelopes soon afterwards. The report discovered that residents of two cities from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces were the most generous in distributing hongbao, spending an average of RMB 1,477 and RMB 1,433 per person, respectively. This may be due to the tradition of distributing red envelopes in coastal provinces. The report also found that small city dwellers spent more per person on hongbao than residents in big cities. Peaks for hongbao distribution are holidays like the Double Seventh Festival in August, known as the traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day.
(Photos from Baidu Images.)