Beijing tops table as China's 'smartest city'
By Gavin Neale Blackburn

2017-08-01 11:52 GMT+8

1km to Beijing

Beijing has been cited as China's "smartest" city according to a new report on the cashless society released on Monday.

The report, jointly published by tech giant Tencent, the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China and French market research firm Ipsos, measured the degree to which cities were smart.

324 cities in China were profiled and 6,500 residents were polled on their use of cashless mobile payments for amenities such as transport, shopping and food deliveries.

WeChat pay has around 600 million active users. /Xinhua Photo

Beijing ranked first for penetration of cashless payments, followed by Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

The report also showed that 40 percent of Chinese people carry less than 100 yuan (15 US dollars) in cash when going out, while 52 percent only use cash for 20 percent of their total monthly consumption.

Over 70 percent of respondents said they could live for more than a week with only 100 yuan in cash, and 84 percent were "comfortable" going out with no cash at all.

Alipay made inroads into Europe in 2015. /Xinhua Photo

The popularity of mobile-pay platforms such as WeChat and Alipay have exploded in China in recent years, with everything from high-end department stores down to street food vendors accepting cashless payments.

WeChat's owners Tencent said the pay service has 600 million active users, while 450 million use Alipay.

China's Asian neighbors – particularly popular destinations for Chinese tourists such as Japan, Thailand and South Korea – are increasingly accepting payments from both platforms.

And in July, WeChat launched in Europe, following in Alipay's footsteps after they got a foothold there in 2015.

Although China still has some catching up to do to match countries such as the United States and Sweden for cashless payments penetration, it has made great strides in moving to non-cash payment alternatives.

Around 92% of people in major Chinese cities pay with WeChat or Alipay. /Xinhua Photo

A report from Bangkok Bank (China) said that last year China moved into fourth place in the world for non-cash payments behind the US, Europe and Brazil.

China has around 4 billion debit cards on issue – almost enough for each adult to have three – and also has the largest population using their cellphones to make payments.

Furthermore, a study published by Penguin Intelligence found that a whopping 92 percent of people in China’s biggest cities use ubiquitous apps like WeChat or Alipay as their primary payment method.