China’s thriving mobile market shows no signs of slowing. Now accountable for over half of global consumer spending on smartphones, China’s innovation within the fintech industry has shown the potential of mobile banking in driving consumer convenience.
Michael Lowers, Global Director, Finance Vertical Eco-development & Partnerships at Huawei Consumer Business Group, shares how the rapid adoption of payments in China can lend insight into where the future of finance could be headed here in Europe. He discusses how technology companies − not banks– are the ones leading a continental shift towards mobile banking services.
Described as a country that ‘skipped the desktop’, many attributed the flourishing mobile adoption in China to the sharp rise in smartphones and online shopping. Unlike Europe, China’s consumer habits saw the country move straight to smartphones to provide consumers with a seamless, connected solution to financial health.
Naturally, this pivoted to the development of a fully connected landscape, with record-breaking figures in online shopping sales compared to Europe. This is illustrated by the striking comparisons between the two largest online retailers during their biggest sale events. While Amazon Prime Day’s sale typically makes $10 billion globally, it pales in comparison to Alibaba’s biggest annual shopping event, ‘Singles Day’ or ‘Double 11’ sale event, which grossed a staggering $74 billion in China (over 70% more than Amazon) last year alone.
So, what does this mean for the financial landscape? With a smartphone-driven connected environment, we have the perfect solution to the tale as old as time challenge of a lack of financial inclusion and accessibility to basic products and services currently posed by traditional banks.
Open Banking as an enabler for financial inclusion
China has illustrated that a mobile-first society provides the ideal conditions for consumer-driven fintech innovation and digital transformation. Open Banking can be a key enabler for financial inclusion amongst consumers. If we only rely on traditional banks, we risk cutting off a huge number of consumers and isolating those without a deeper understanding of the financial industry.
I have personally experienced the challenges posed by traditional banking systems first-hand. When it comes to my savings for example, legacy systems have often struggled to provide the convenience of accessibility, while also lacking the benefits that newer fintechs, such as Plum, can offer – such as advisory services which make everyday challenges like saving money more simplified and achievable.
While this is a personal experience, it’s also a reflection of how a huge population of individuals still feel – both the banked and unbanked – and who desperately need more accessible financial services and knowledge. This is where fintech innovation comes in. Without it, we risk leaving legacy systems in place and customer needs unmet.
The play for Fintechs and mobile banking
In China, it’s the technology companies – not the banks – who have been the ones to adapt and address these unmet customer needs by bringing payment solutions to smartphones. The combination of a rapid rise in smartphone adoption, tech companies’ fintech innovation, and Chinese consumers’ willingness to adopt new services, is resulting in mobile lead players quickly owning the entire ecosystem across both the financial and non-financial spaces.
You can see this with the high adoption rate of AliPay and WeChat. 92% of the population now use them in major Chinese cities, which translates to over 1 billion users across the country. Not only that, but fintech innovations such as AliPay’s simple payment QR codes have rapidly gained traction amongst consumers. Initially invented as a way for car manufacturers to track the manufacturing process, it has now become a way of life for Chinese consumers, with QR codes accounting for over 83% of all payments in the country! Now the dominant payment method, QR codes are used by consumers and retailers alike, due to their simplicity and requirement of no speciality equipment.
Connecting the dots, China’s solution to tie-in Fintech payment services comes in the form of Superapp. With Superapps, daily services such as shopping, delivery, private hires, or event insurance, are all housed within the same app, with the same payment solution embedded across all services. The convenience of tying these essential services together – connected by a simple payment service – allows for greater accessibility for consumers and increases the value of using Fintech payment methods as the primary payment service.
Even when it comes to handling savings, Fintechs such as Plum, Revolut and Starling promote accessibility and an improved experience for everyone. The ability to access these services anytime, anywhere, means that daily challenges like saving money are now simplified and much more convenient for users.
AppGallery’s expertise in China helps developers around the world to become a part of the solution
There is a strong demand for mobile banking solutions – in 2021 we saw a 31% growth in banking apps in Europe, so although we are behind, we’re very much on the same path.
In the meantime, we can look to China to see the potential of where the finance industry is heading, with the proliferation of things like QR code payments, Superapps and richer shopping experiences that are yet to reach European shores. Fintech innovation has proven that reaching out to the unbanked can be achieved, provided that smartphone connectivity and usage are prevalent as the basic requirement among consumers.
Huawei has expertise within the Chinese market, with local experts across Europe to help our partners prepare and make the most of future technology trends that are already prolific in Asia. AppGallery is committed to providing developers in the fintech sector with the technological capabilities, full-spectrum support, and commercial opportunities that they need to succeed in an increasingly complex and competitive environment. This includes full-cycle operation management across the full development cycle, full-spectrum developer support through AppGallery Connect, overseas support, as well as marketing support. Through AppGallery, Huawei is set up to help fintech developers stay at the forefront of digital growth.
Huawei has been an integral part of the mobile market for over 30 years, with over 540 million active users on AppGallery every single month. fintech and banks in Europe can partner with Huawei to leverage the technology and industry expertise it brings, allowing them to offer their customers better solutions