China’s largest mobile payment app Alipay released annual spending figures for individual users on Monday morning, spurring discussion among netizens on microblogging platform Weibo and boosting it to the top trending topic before noon.
Why it matters: The topic went viral in a matter of hours, underscoring how important mobile payments have become to China’s netizens.
- China’s mobile payment transactions reached RMB 166.1 trillion ($23.8 trillion) in the first half of 2019, according to iiMedia Research.
Details: Chinese netizens were not shy about sharing how much they spent last year. The annual account statement reveals detailed numbers such as how much and how many times a user spent in categories like lifestyle, dining, clothes, and transportation.
- Many Chinese netizens seemed shocked to see last year’s spending, some expressed doubt about the accuracy of Alipay’s numbers. “How is it possible I spent so much?” was a common reaction to the figures.
- Many users questioned the accuracy of Alipay’s numbers. “I don’t think it is accurate at all. I spent RMB 110,000 last year? I don’t have that much in my bank and I’m not in debt,” a user going by the handle “Suibi Qingmo kingo” commented under a post by iFeng media. “I think the numbers are fake. I’m a poor college student. It shows I spent RMB 40,000 last year, I don’t believe it. My annual household income is not even that much,” another Weibo user responded.
- Some Weibo users speculated that Alipay’s annual statements take into account transfers between the user’s bank accounts and purchases of products that have been returned. Others pointed out the common practice of one person in a group paying with Alipay first, then settle the bill with the rest of the group on WeChat.
- Ant Financial responded in a Chinese media report that this year’s annual statement includes total expenditures. Several new categories had been added to the total including investments and wealth management, finance and insurance, red packets sent between users, charity donations, transfers to other accounts, and pre-paid account top-up.
- Content containing the hashtag #AlipayAnnualAccountStatement (our translation) had been read more than 480 million times as of Monday afternoon.
Context: Alipay has more than 1.2 billion users globally as of the end of June, and has looking to expand in a number of different markets.
- Rival WeChat Pay also generates annual account statements for individual users that list of transactions to help give users visibility on spending habits.