Most of us can remember a time when having a piece of plastic in your purse or wallet that you could swipe and buy something, it seemed outrageous, and to this day I still don’t trust this system I so willingly utilise. Fast forward a couple of years or so, and there is a massive shift in the Far East, and most in the West did not even feel the vibrations. The western world still has to swipe but in the east more so China it is all about being cash less, everything and everywhere any form of payment is just a scan away.
The concept of money is steeped in a history of more or less convenience depending on whom you talk too, and it is precisely the idea that China has taken and magnified. Typical a days in China is, waking up and getting ready for work, head out, scan a QR for Mobike, OFO or some other bike sharing company. After arriving at your destination head to a Starbucks, Family Mart or the local mom and pop place to get some food then scan to pay and leave. Work your 9 to 5 and get back to living which can be shopping, hanging with friends, going to movies you name it and yes we scan to pay. This is the day to day life of living here for Chinese and foreigner alike. Overall it has had a tremendous impact to the point where it seems that the whole country has moved to digital money and I mean the entire country.
No cash no problem
Businesses have welcomed it with open arms; it has allowed them unprecedented access to their consumers in new ways, enabling them to better target customers, and moreover, have a direct contact with them. Brands can now get hard data on how often you shop with them, items shoppers purchase and if they have the foresight to have a linked system that can bring up the different locations you have visited, all this because of the device we stroll around with daily.
In China, your phone is not just another tool to stay connected, but it is your lifeline. The digital money market has two major players, Tencent the creator of Wechat one of the major social networks and Alipay by Alibaba, and between the two them, they revolutionised payment and continuously implementing ways to make it easier. So now we pay bills and shop with our phones, reaching for a card seems so antiquated to the point that I am more likely to leave my wallet at home than my phone.
What is the Future?
All this points to a future where we are more digitally entrenched than what we are now, where everything is connected, and purchases will constantly move from O2O2O and more businesses have to readjust their strategy on how to interact with consumers. Alibaba's Hema supermarket is one such place where all purchases are digital, and it provides a new experience from the standard run to the grocery store.
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