While robust, the payment card market in China is expected to ramp down in tandem with the economy over the next five years.
Timetric’s “The Cards and Payments Industry in China: Emerging Trends and Opportunities to 2020” provides values and volumes for a number of key performance indicators in the industry, including check payments, payment cards, cash transactions, and credit transfers.
The People’s Bank of China – the country’s central bank – announced in March 2016 that it is contemplating a cap merchant on service charges on card transactions. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the central bank of China, merchant service charges for debit cards will be capped at 0.35%, while those on credit cards will be no more than 0.45%.
Prior to this new policy, banks could charge a maximum 0.9% on card payments. The central bank of China said that the development will take effect on September 6, 2016. This would result in saving of US$1.2 billion (CNY7.4 billion) for merchants in a year. With reduction in revenue, card issuers are likely to cut card benefits for consumers, and instead look at new ways to generate revenue.
The emergence of digital-only banks is likely to accelerate a shift towards electronic payments in China. WeBank which was launched in January 2015, became the country’s first digital only bank, allowing consumers to conduct banking transactions entirely online and via mobile phones. WeBank’s launch was followed by the launch of MYBank and Baixin Bank in June and November of 2015 respectively.
The uptake of alternative payments among Chinese consumers is gaining traction due to the availability of a number of options, such as Alipay, Tenpay and PayPal. In April 2016, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi collaborated with China UnionPay (CUP) to introduce its own m-payment service.
Similarly, Chinese mobile manufacturer Huawei Technologies entered into a partnership with CUP in March 2016 to launch its m-payment service, Huawei Pay. In February 2016, Apple Pay entered the Chinese market in partnership with CUP. Following the launch of Apple Pay, South Korean company Samsung also launched its m-payment service in China in March 2016, in alliance with CUP. The entry of new alternative payment solutions such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, QuickPass and Huawei Pay is likely to intensify competition in China’s alternative payments market.
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