It's hard to not notice the change. Every lunchtime in Beijing queues of phone-waggling customers zip past tills with a "beep", and no fiddling for notes. QR codes are printed on cards and taped onto chicken wrap stalls outside metro stations. In the eastern Shandong province, panhandlers have been spotted with QR codes hanging around their necks. No loose change? Just scan here."We're at a tipping point now," said Rhia Liu, 25, an analyst with China Tech Insights, an organization that conducts research for Tencent. "The younger generation has never read a physical newspaper, and similarly in the future they'll never use cash."
"The younger generation has never read a physical newspaper, and similarly in the future they'll never use cash."
Liu's research found differences between levels of mobile payment use by users in first- and second- tier cities compared to those in third and lower tier cities. "Within five years first-tier cities will have full penetration of this cashless trend," she said. The infrastructures in lower-tier cities are not ready to achieve the same penetration, according to Liu. Nevertheless, "the trend will grow to these regions, but it will take more time for them to adopt it."Kapron reckons that by 2030 China will be "for all intents and purposes, cashless." He added that the process will quicken when the central government decides to announce that a cashless society is its aim, which he believes would make sense economically for the country."Governments globally want to go cashless," he said. "Cash is expensive to produce, and it doesn't lend itself to transparency or security. China is looking at a kind of 'e-RMB' [digital currency], and will be pushing toward that."
"Within five years first-tier cities will have full penetration of this cashless trend."