With QR codes becoming a popular payment option, Alipay and Wechat Pay, two major third-party mobile payment tools in China, will run campaigns in August to bring more merchants and customers into the cashless world.
Wechat Pay's "Cashless Day" campaign began on Aug. 8 and will last until the end of the month. Its users can share their awards with friends on the app, helping merchants get more customers.
Wechat Pay's major rival, Alipay, also ran its Cashless City Week promotion from August 1-8. Alipay allowed its users to get awards in their Alipay accounts by paying in physical stores. More than 10 million merchants are reported to have joined the promotion.
There are more than 500 million mobile payment users in China and about 400 million users pay on their smartphones while shopping in physical stores, according to figures released by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
The two e-wallet giants dominate China's domestic mobile payment market. As of the end of 2016, the market shares of Alipay and Wechat Pay were 54 percent and 37 percent respectively, said Beijing-based marketing consultancy Analysys International.
Li Jun bought a box of chocolate at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. "The original price was 69 yuan (10 U.S. dollars), but I only paid 61 yuan because of Wechat's promotion," Li said. She also got awards in her Wechat Pay account.
"I can pay with my smartphone at almost all shops at the airport," Li said.
Wang Meijuan can hardly recall when she last paid in cash. Whether it is having meals in restaurants, taking a taxi, or shopping at supermarkets, Wang said she paid everything with her smartphone instead of card or cash.
China had 724 million mobile phone users by the end of June 2017. More than 35 percent of them often make mobile payments while about 31.8 percent still prefer cash or credit cards, according to CNNIC.
Cashless payment has become popular among senior citizens. Nie Lina, 62, has learnt shopping online and ordering take-away from restaurants on her smartphone.
"There are various promotions and it really helps sometimes," Nie said.
As of June, the proportion of China's web users aged 40 years old and above rose by 1.7 percent compared with 2016.
During Alipay's Cashless City Week, participation by users aged above 50 years old increased by ten-fold compared with the same period last year.
The number of mobile payment transaction at Alipay also rose by nine-fold during the promotion week, said Ant Financial, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba.