Viewpoint: Lessons from China’s mobile payments revolution
By John Enger
When Darren Buckley moved to China last August to be the head of Citigroup’s consumer bank there, he did what most people do when they arrive in a new country: head for an ATM to grab some local currency.
Nine months later, that stash of renminbi sits in his briefcase untouched, a relic of the past in a country where the majority of payments are now made with smartphones.
“Even the smallest merchants on the street, they don’t want cash,” said Buckley, who came to Shanghai after six years at the helm of Citi’s Thailand operations. “You pay for everything with your phone and a QR code.”
“If you’re a banker in the United States, trying to envision what consumer banking could be like, this is pretty close to the end state,” Buckley added. “The level of convenience, 24/7, is well beyond what you can deliver through a traditional banking model.”
Photo courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns.
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