China Payments Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

The China Payments Market is segmented by Mode of Payment (Point of Sale (Card Payments, Digital Wallet, Cash), Online Sale (Card Payments, Digital Wallet)), and by End-user Industries (Retail, Entertainment, Healthcare, Hospitality).

Market Snapshot

China Payments Market Size
Study Period: 2020-2027
Base Year: 2021
CAGR: 8.8 %

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Market Overview

The China payments market is expected to register a CAGR of 8.8% during the period of 2022-2027. The primary factor driving the growth of the market in the region is the cashless society, huge E-commerce market, and high penetration of mobile and online payments, among others.

  • China has developed differently in terms of payment methods; while others countries have switched from cash to credit cards and are now switching to mobile phones, China has skipped a step. Credit card usage in China is significantly less, especially for E-commerce.
  • Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent pioneered digital merchant payments by introducing AliPay and Wechat Pay and have driven the shift away from cash in the Chinese economy. The companies see digital payments not as a goal but as an entry point to a vast ecosystem of offline and online goods and services.
  • The rapid shift in payment infrastructure in the country is driven by widespread bank account and smartphone ownership in China. Also, mobile payments have been so successful in China because they are fast and straightforward and are driving the payments market in China. And this speed is possible because of the QR codes. In China, QR Codes are available everywhere, at every shop.
  • Boosted by the growth of smartphone adoption and increasing internet penetration, especially in China, mobile payments have taken off since the onset of the pandemic. Naturally, online sales have rocketed for goods or digital services. The paradigm shift to digital ways of making payments has profoundly impacted the way many companies do business.
  • China’s approach to regulating fintech includes three points: Firstly, financial businesses in the region must be licensed to operate. Secondly, different companies such as insurance and wealth management must set up firewalls security to prevent cross-sector risks. Finally, the direct link between non-banks and banking information services must be cut. The central bank has also required fintech businesses to set up holding companies and to include all subsidiaries engaged in financial activities.
  • However, a series of strict measures on fintech regulation has also been implemented in the region. For instance, in November 2021, China’s new law on personal data protection came into effect. In September, the Data Security Law was introduced, and in January, the central bank tightened its regulation of non-bank payment providers, effectively restricting their activities in the swiftly growing payments sector.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic in China, the Payment & Clearing Association of China (PCAC) launched an action on 28 February 2020 to encourage people in mainland China to use mobile payment, online payment, and QR payment to avoid the risk of COVID-19 infection. This resulted in a rise in mobile and online payments in the region during the pandemic and is likely to grow further in the coming years.

Scope of the Report

The China Payments Market is segmented by Mode of Payment (Point of Sale (Card Payments, Digital Wallet, Cash), Online Sale (Card Payments, Digital Wallet)), and by End-user Industries (Retail, Entertainment, Healthcare, Hospitality). E-commerce payments include online purchases of goods and services such as purchases made on e-commerce websites and online booking of travel and accommodation. The scope of the market excludes online purchases of motor vehicles, real estate, utility bill payments (such as water, heating, and electricity), mortgage payments, loans, credit card bills, or purchases of shares and bonds. As for Point-of-Sale, all transactions that occur at the physical point of sale are included in the scope of the market. It includes traditional in-store transactions and all face-to-face transactions regardless of the location of the transaction. Cash is also considered for both cases (cash-on-delivery for e-commerce sales).

The study tracks key market metrics, underlying growth influencers, and significant industry vendors, providing support for China's market estimates and growth rates throughout the anticipated period. The study looks at COVID-19's overall influence on the China payment ecosystem.

By Mode of Payment
Point of Sale
Card Payments (includes Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Bank Financing Prepaid Cards)
Digital Wallet (includes Mobile Wallets)
Online Sale
Card Payments (includes Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Bank Financing Prepaid Cards)
Digital Wallet (includes Mobile Wallets)
Others (includes Cash on Delivery, Bank Transfer, and Buy Now, Pay Later)
By End-user Industry
Other End-user Industries

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Key Market Trends

Mobile Payments to Drive the Payments Market

  • China’s booming mobile payment is significantly dominated by big players such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, adopted widely by shopkeepers, restaurants, and various E-commerce platforms. Mobile payment solutions are further expected to gain traction over the forecast period in a country with high internet and smartphone penetration rates.
  • As per data from GSMA, there were 1.63 billion cellular mobile connections in China at the start of 2022. GSMA’s numbers indicate that mobile connections in China were equivalent to 113 % of the total population in January 2022. The number of mobile connections in China increased by 29.2 million (+1.8 %) between 2021 and 2022.
  • The key enabling factor in China that made it ripe for digital payments and retail revolutionary is the high level of bank account ownership, which served as a foundation for funding mobile wallets. Major players in the region, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, were able to ride on existing financial infrastructure through bank accounts and bank cards and clearing and settlement systems.
  • The major companies have also created easy onboarding for customers and merchants to drive uptake. Customers self-enroll through the app, and sellers can start accepting mobile payments by sharing their unique QR codes even before registering as merchants.
  • Furthermore, according to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), in early 2020, 62.1 billion electronic payments were registered, including 30.7 billion mobile transactions, representing a year-on-year increase of 73.6%. In March 2020, 776.08 million persons were using mobile payment in China.
China Payments Market Share

Rising Adoption of E-commerce Supported by M-commerce in China

  • China is a world leader in mobile commerce, and this method of shopping dominates E-commerce in the country. Almost three out of every four of China’s e-commerce transactions are carried out on smartphones. Major players are providing an advanced, market-leading mobile online shopping experience supported by innovative payment options to meet the demands and capture the attention of China’s highly sophisticated mobile shoppers.
  • The growing popularity of online shopping resulted in an increase in the number of online shoppers in the region, supported by high mobile internet penetration, rising popularity of live e-commerce, and easy payment checkout solutions in China. For instance, as reported by CNNIC, the number of online shoppers grew from 466.7 million in 2016 to 842.1 million in 2021. The rapid increase in online shoppers over the past few years is further expected to boost e-commerce sales in the region.
  • Furthermore, the online shopping penetration increased in the region, supported by mobile commerce and innovative digital payment solutions offered by various market players in the area. For instance, CNNIC reported that the online shopping penetration was 63.8% in 2016, which grew to 81.6% in 2021.
  • Moreover, digital Payment solutions such as Alipay and WeChat Pay are rapidly growing as payment solutions for E-commerce platforms. While Alipay benefits as a primary payment tool on all the e-commerce platforms owned by the Alibaba group, WeChat Pay, which Tencent offers, leverages its massive social media user base of 1.2 billion people to push online payments. As Chinese customers continue to embrace e-commerce, these payment solutions are further expected to gain momentum.
  • Furthermore, there’s been a surge of interest in BNPL services in China over the last decade. Few factors driving BNPL are unprecedented low-interest rates, the rise of online payment through Alipay and WeChat Pay, and highly well-funded fintech start-ups eager to acquire new customers. Various E-commerce platforms in the region provide BNPL services to their customers.
China Payments Market Forecast

Competitive Landscape

The China payments market appears to be consolidated as few of the major players currently hold significant market share. These major players offer innovative mobile payment solutions and indulge in partnerships and acquisitions to gain more market share. Major players in the China payments market include AliPay (Alibaba Group), WeChat Pay(Tencent Holdings Ltd.), and UnionPay International, among others.

  • May 2022 - China’s sovereign digital currency, known as e-CNY, is on track to achieve greater exposure in more cities across the mainland, as leading domestic mobile payments provider Alipay announced that its app had added a button that enables users to search for and download the official e-CNY wallet within its platform. By opening an account using the same phone number associated with Alipay, users can make purchases with e-CNY on the app.
  • September 2021 - Stripe, a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet, has deepened its partnership with China’s UnionPay International, one of the world’s largest payment networks. Stripe’s partnership with UnionPay International complements its existing payment integrations, making Stripe the best solution for large enterprises and small businesses to sell to Chinese consumers. Within a few minutes and through a single integration, Stripe users can now access over 1 billion Chinese consumers in and outside mainland China.

Recent Developments

  • April 2022 - China's central bank digital currency, the Digital Yuan, has been integrated with Tencent's flagship messaging app WeChat and appears as a payment option when users employ the super-app shop.WeChat boasts over 1.2 billion monthly active users, is ubiquitous in China, and is popular outside the Middle Kingdom too.
  • December 2021 - Card-to-card and international payments platform Paysend has launched a technology partnership with Tencent Holdings' FinTech division to let people receive money over Tencent's WeChat service. The partnership will enable Paysend users to make cross-border payments through licensed banks in China, with the funds going to bank accounts linked to the Weixin app, a version of WeChat targeting users in mainland China.

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definitions

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Industry Stakeholder Analysis

    3. 4.3 Industry Attractiveness-Porter's Five Force Analysis

      1. 4.3.1 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      2. 4.3.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.3.3 Threat of New Entrants

      4. 4.3.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.3.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry

    4. 4.4 Evolution of the payments landscape in China

    5. 4.5 Key market trends pertaining to the growth of cashless transaction in China

    6. 4.6 Impact of COVID-19 on the payments market in China


    1. 5.1 Market Drivers

      1. 5.1.1 Rising Adoption of E-commerce Supported by M-commerce in China

      2. 5.1.2 Mobile Payments to Drive the Payments Market

      3. 5.1.3 Growth of Real-time Payments, especially Buy Now Pay Later in China

    2. 5.2 Market Challenges

      1. 5.2.1 Challenges Related to Strict FinTech Regulations

    3. 5.3 Market Opportunities

      1. 5.3.1 Move towards Cashless Society

      2. 5.3.2 New Entrants to Drive Innovation Leading to Higher Adoption

    4. 5.4 Key Regulations and Standards in the Digital Payments Industry

    5. 5.5 Analysis of major case studies and use-cases

    6. 5.6 Analysis of key demographic trends and patterns related to payments industry in China (Coverage to include Population, Internet Penetration, Banking Penetration/Unbanking Population, Age & Income etc.)

    7. 5.7 Analysis of the increasing emphasis on customer satisfaction and convergence of global trends in China

    8. 5.8 Analysis of cash displacement and rise of contactless payment modes in China

  6. 6. Market Segmentation

    1. 6.1 By Mode of Payment

      1. 6.1.1 Point of Sale

        1. Card Payments (includes Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Bank Financing Prepaid Cards)

        2. Digital Wallet (includes Mobile Wallets)

        3. Cash

        4. Others

      2. 6.1.2 Online Sale

        1. Card Payments (includes Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Bank Financing Prepaid Cards)

        2. Digital Wallet (includes Mobile Wallets)

        3. Others (includes Cash on Delivery, Bank Transfer, and Buy Now, Pay Later)

    2. 6.2 By End-user Industry

      1. 6.2.1 Retail

      2. 6.2.2 Entertainment

      3. 6.2.3 Healthcare

      4. 6.2.4 Hospitality

      5. 6.2.5 Other End-user Industries

  7. 7. Competitive Landscape

    1. 7.1 Company Profiles

      1. 7.1.1 AliPay (Alibaba Group)

      2. 7.1.2 WeChat Pay (Tencent Holdings Ltd)

      3. 7.1.3 UnionPay International

      4. 7.1.4

      5. 7.1.5 Apple Pay

      6. 7.1.6 Mastercard Inc.

      7. 7.1.7 GOPAY S.R.O.

      8. 7.1.8 99Bill Corporation

      9. 7.1.9 Orange Finance (China Telecom BestPay Co. Ltd)

      10. 7.1.10 Huawei Pay (Huawei Device Co. Ltd)

    2. *List Not Exhaustive
  8. 8. Investment Analysis

  9. 9. Future Outlook of the Market

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Frequently Asked Questions

The China Payments Market market is studied from 2020 - 2027.

The China Payments Market is growing at a CAGR of 8.8% over the next 5 years.

AliPay (Alibaba Group), WeChat Pay (Tencent Holdings Ltd.) , UnionPay International , (, Apple Pay are the major companies operating in China Payments Market .

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