Here are the real reasons why China is so much faster at embracing cashless payment

Many transactions in China, even at roadside stalls, are done through the scanning of Quick Response Codes.
Screenshot / The Straits Times

China is now the world’s biggest cashless marketplace. Just by scanning Quick Response Codes (QR codes) with their phones, citizens can pay for almost everything. The mobile payment market is dominated by two apps, WeChat Pay and AliPay, which have hundreds of millions of active monthly users.

According to a 2017 study by Penguin Intelligence, 92 per cent of people in China’s top cities said that they use WeChat Pay or AliPay as their primary payment method.

Many think that China is moving towards a cashless society at such a rapid speed as cashless payment systems are efficient and hygienic – but here are the real reasons why.


With these cashless payment systems implemented all over the country, citizens and stall vendors no longer carry around wads of cash with them. Mobile Payments Conference said that 40 per cent of the population in China currently carries “almost no cash”.

In addition to seemingly becoming a cashless society, China also appears to be becoming a card-less society.

With minimal cash on citizens and vendors, the risk of robbery is lowered.

Even taxi drivers are accepting cashless transactions. In the past, they had to leave bank notes in their cars and this made them a target for thieves. But now, with transactions done digitally, taxi drivers are feeling safer.

Counterfeit money

Before cashless payment systems became common, counterfeit notes were a problem in China. 

Counterfeit bill detectors at cashiers, holding up the bill against a light source to find its watermark and scratching the hair of Chairman Mao were only a few of the methods the Chinese used to check if the note was authentic or not.

ATMs were also reportedly dispensing counterfeit notes and the government even came up with new notes to counter the counterfeit ones, but the problem still persisted.

By limiting the circulation of physical notes with the cashless payment systems, cases of receiving counterfeit notes have greatly reduced in number.

For countries like Singapore, moving towards a cashless society is not done as quickly as China as counterfeit notes are not as common here, and high robbery crime rates are way lower than in China.