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Mobile payments getting popular in China

Cash payments may soon become a thing of the past in China. That’s as mobile payment services, using your smart device, are quickly gaining traction across the country.

Imagine never needing a wallet. That’s becoming a reality in many shopping centers in China’s big cities, as customers don’t need to pay with cash or credit cards anymore. All they need are their smart phones.

“It is very quick and easy. I just need to put my phone close to the POS machine and it is done,” Customer Dabai said.

The technology behind this kind of payment is called Near Field Communication, or NFC. Businesses using a specialized POS machine can complete transactions by sending payment requests to a nearby designated smart phone, which is bundled with credit card information. Many restaurants are installing the new machines.

“We have nine stores in Beijing. With each million yuan worth of revenue we make, more than 700,000 are paid with non-cash methods, including credit cards and mobile payment,” Gao Haibo, marketing manager with Beijing Huoqi Restaurant Management, said.

He said that just a year ago, only half of the payments were done through non-cash channels. Experts say mobile payments are becoming a sweeping revolution.

“The revolution is that smart POS machines are replacing traditional credit card POS machines. It takes a year or two for the market to get used to them, and we’ll see an explosion of popularity from the third or fourth year on,” Sun Taoran, president of Lakala, said.

Data shows that mobile payments reached 22 trillion yuan across China in 2015. That’s a 166 percent increase year on year compared to 2014.