BEIJING—E-commerce in China’s less-developed rural regions is gaining momentum as consumers there increasingly use mobile phones to make purchases online, according to a report released Monday from Alipay, an online payment service provider owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
From 2012 to 2014, mobile payments as a portion of total payments made via Alipay more than doubled in rural regions, indicating shoppers “in rural areas and smaller cities are quickly adopting mobile devices as their primary tool for online shopping,” the 2014 Alipay spending report said, noting that this year in Tibet more than 62 percent of Alipay payments were made via mobile devices.
Nationwide, the percentage of mobile transactions to total transactions for the first 10 months of 2014 was 54 percent, up 22 percent from last year. Shaanxi and Ningxia, both provinces in the interior, ranked second and third behind Tibet for the highest share of mobile payments in the country this year, said the report.
Consumers in first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, are still shopping primarily from desktop computers rather than cellphones and that consumers in these cities as well as more developed coastal areas are still the biggest spenders with payments accounting for 55 percent of total transactions made via Alipay this year.
Yet remote Western cities in Tibet and Xinjiang Province have for the past decade ranked among the top places where spending is growing the fastest, the Alipay report said.
Falling prices of smartphones combined with weak broadband infrastructure in China’s interior are factors leading to the growth of mobile commerce, according to Alipay. A study released in July by the China Internet Network Information Center said that at the end of 2013, 43 percent of those surveyed had used mobile devices to shop online.
Alipay has more than 300 million registered users and handles more than 80 million transactions daily, the company said.