China now has 772 million internet users according to a report published by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) today (in Chinese).
Growth rates of internet users have remained steady. During 2017, a total of 40.74 million new netizens were added with a growth rate of 5.6%. Internet penetration rates have reached 55.8% in China, more than the global average (51.7%) and the average rates for Asia (46.7%).
The number of mobile phone users in China has reached an impressive 753 million. Unsurprisingly, mobile phone use was up while everything else was down including desktop computers, laptops, and tablets. One small exception was television which saw a minor increase in usage. The proportion of internet users using mobile phones rose from 95.1% in 2016 to 97.5% in 2017.
However, the most interesting trend in China’s internet in 2017 was mobile payments. Although there has been a lot of talk about the rise of mobile payments in China, CNNIC’s numbers show that this rise has been slower during 2017. Since the end of 2016, the proportion of internet users that pay with their phones rose from 50.3% to 65.5%. Most new users come from rural areas.
There was another number that went up at an impressive rate. The number of internet users buying internet financial products in China has reached 129 million, up 30.2% from the same period last year. The trend reflects China’s growing fintech sector in which P2P lending made a mark during 2017 before stricter regulations were brought in.
Another notable trend was online entertainment. The growth of live-streaming users was impressive reaching 22.6%. Among them, 53.1% followed gaming live streaming.
Bike rental users have reached 221 million in the first half of 2017 prompting Chinese bike rental companies to spread their wings abroad in 22 countries.
60% Internet users said they use online government services with the number in China reaching 485 million, according to CNNIC.