Julian Mintzis, Education and Business Professional.
The reason is access to credit. Only people that work for large, usually state-owned companies can easily be approved for a credit card and even if you have a credit card it is often not accepted or there are problems with the merchant’s POS machine. The credit lines are often not that high, as well.
One reason why the mobile payments is more popular is because of the ecosystem that these companies have created. Friends may reimburse you for their part of a meal via one of these wallets or some clients may even pay you via one of these wallets. There are websites that accept these wallets for online shopping, food delivery apps from local restaurants that are linked with these virtual wallets, and many other aspects of life that accept these wallet payments - even down to the street venders! The companies are also creative in that one is not charged for paying someone else or paying a merchant, or adding money from their bank account but withdraws to a bank account are charged.
Recently some of these companies have used computer technology to determine eligibility and interest percentages for people who need to borrow money and for those looking to invest. The problem is that this technology is pretty new and this industry is pretty unregulated.
I wouldn’t say credit cards aren’t popular in China after a quick research.
By 2016 the volume of active credit cards in China is 465 million, or 340K per million people (consider China’s population is 1,350 million).
1.30 We found that in 2014 around 6.9% of cardholders (about two million people) were in arrears or had defaulted... 8.9% of credit cards active in January 2015 (5.1 million accounts) will….
I speculate there are 57 million credit cards in UK (8.9% of 57 million is 5.1 million), or 877K per million people (given UK’s population is 65 million).
It is true that Chinese people have much less cards than UK in terms of per ca pita. But please remember UK is so mature in financial and has much longer history in developing credit card market. Besides UK people are much wealthier than Chinese. China just developed credit card market for 15 years and the market is still growing.
In China, credit cards are paid through Unionpay network in most cases.
Keith Lyons, Founder 'Bali Volcano Agung' Facebook Page (2017-present)
The main reason why credit cards aren’t popular in China is because for many years China was cut off from the rest of the world, and didn’t want the intrusion of foreign companies such as Visa and Mastercard into the country.
Instead, it developed its own system, UnionPay, which is used by most banks in China, and is the mechanism for payment on ATM and credit cards.
In the West, you need to have some credit history, and possibly an earning history and some assets.
Because of these factors, instead, many Chinese use other micro-payment systems, such as WePay on the app wechat. These are more like debit cards, as you can’t loan money, but pay from your wallet.
Jack Zumruls, studied at Finance
Let me give you a differential financial picture from the rest of the answers
Credit, debt etc etc leads to the interests. In the US there are a lot of debt refinancing, loan reduction, tax refund or just just declare bankruptcy to get rid of bad debts. There are investment banks who do nothing but buy debts all day.
In China this kind of debt management does not exist. It’s very rare for there to be a financial pathway for large number of people to get rid of their debts.
There are laws that protect people in debt from having their properties seized away.
So in China debt is real, the number never goes down. Therefore China approaches the concept of debt completely different .
Lty Yu, Engineer (2017-present)
China currently boasts one of the highest personal savings rates in the world. The habit of 'make both ends meet' has long since been rooted in the minds of Chinese people. Research studies comparing saving and spending habits in the US and China found that urban Chinese households, on average, save much more than American households. So credit-card penetration is lower than Western economies.
The Chinese government offers stable mobile broadband connections (3G/4G), even in the sparsely populated areas, where China's telecom operators are in red when providing internet infrastructure. Mobile payment quickly took off before credit card as a means of payment becomes trendy. So China is leapfrogging the credit card stage.
China's online population, the largest in the world, has touched 772 million at the end of 2017, which enables digital players to achieve economies of scale quickly. Shopping credit services like Jingdong Baitiao and Mayi Jiebei are undermining the take-off of credit card penetration.
China is also short of a credit scoring system, credit card companies and other institutions are unable to assess the likelihood that a consumer can or will be able to pay off any debts he accumulates. Again, China is leapfrogging it, as internet giants are developing private credit scoring systems based on big data solutions, for example Sesame Credit developed by Ant Financial Services Group.
And merchant & payment processing fees are also holding back the acceptance of credit cards.
From what I experienced it is rather difficult to apply for a credit card in China with useful credit limit as there’s no easy way to check people's creditworthiness there (so banks were cautious to give much credit to applicant). With the latest surge of electronic payment methods these day I guess China is pretty much skipping the credit card stage and go straight to e-payment. The latest form of e-payment still doesn’t give people much credit though as they're still mostly debit base, pre-charged.
Selim Inges, China nerd
The banking system in China is terrible for common consumers.
Getting small personal loans is hard. There's a whole shadow-lending market, provided both by banks and private individuals
Due to rapid progress in mobile connectivity; China skipped the plastic credit card step and jumped straight to mobile payments. The same thing is happening in India right now.
A similar example of technology jump was penetration of telephones in India. Most of the India skipped the wired telephone connection phase and straight jumped to mobile telephony.
Alan Lowe, knows Mandarin Chinese
you konw that Jack Ma wants to bring China into a No Cash Society,Alipay and WeChat Payment is very popular in China,so,when we go outside,all we need is a mobilephone,but we use credit cards in different ways
I wanna say we have lots of people who didn’ have education. So most banks don’t like giving credit cards to them. Actually, a lot of people have some credit cards in city.
Toan Duong, Computer Repair Techician (2016-present)
Simply because most Chinese people like, and think it is safer and more convenient, to have live cash in their pocket instead of 'somewhere else’. It is very time-consuming to made credit cards popular among people of countries like China or Vietnamese because of that.
andall Burns, Economic Journalist at VDARE.com
Credit cards are largely a scam preying upon people in hard situations. When credit it provided that way, it means more people have borrow just to subsist. The chinese financial industry is largely government owned and thus more tightly regulated than what you see in the US.