The digital revolution in China appeared to be a marvel to the world, as the country's leading mobile payment businesses began to facilitate people's lives across the globe.
CHANGING PAYMENT HABIT
Can you get by a day in Beijing without a wallet? In April last year, a CNN correspondent Will Ripley gave it a try and he survived well.
"Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about going an entire day in Beijing without my wallet, but I was surprised to discover just how easy and convenient it is," said Ripley in his report.
He ordered "a delicious fried crepe" --Jianbing-- for breakfast at a cramped roadside shop, opened Wechat app on his smartphone, and scanned a Wechat pay-bar-code sticker on the window. Seconds later, by inputting a 4-digit password for payment, and the transaction was completed.
Carrying a smartphone, Ripley also hailed taxis, ordered coffee, paid for meals at restaurants without trouble.
In recent years, mobile payment has sprung up in major Chinese cities as a preference over cash and cards when people buy goods or services from various businesses ranging from street vendors, supermarket chains to fancy shopping centers.
Electronic payments are mainly processed through China's Alipay and Wechat apps. By linking credit and debit cards with personal accounts on the two apps, people could transfer money and complete payments with a few tips of fingers.
According to a UN report published in April, China's total mobile payments in value have increased some 20-fold in four years to reach 20 trillion yuan (2.9 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2016.
Alipay, established by China's e-commerce titan Alibaba Group in 2004, released data showing that 71 percent of online payments on its platform was completed through smartphones in 2016.
About one third of foreigners in China have used Alipay by 2016, said Alipay's parent company Ant Financial Services Group.
"My wallet is no longer in use. I can buy and eat whatever I want simply with a fingertip on my phone," Lin Jinlong, an overseas student from Cambodia told Xinhua.
"We can also order food at home, which is super convenient. If I were at home in Cambodia, I would have to go outdoors," Lin said.
Mobile payment has become a popular way of life in China. Besides purchasing goods, users can take full advantage of the apps to pay water and electricity bills as well as traffic fines, unlock shared bicycles that are ubiquitous in urban areas, pay for bus and taxi rides, and make appointments at hospitals.