Digital payments were not only accepted by the tech-savvy middle-class from big cities. It also changed the lives of rural residents and small business owners. In 2019, more than 20 percent of Chinese mobile payment users were from counties and townships. Also, about 92 percent of mobile internet users who lived in small-sized towns and villages said they used mobile payments more often compared to cash and credit cards. Mobile wallets now play an essential roles in various scenarios in Chinese life, from giving New Year red envelopes to splitting bills in restaurants.
In China, private and small-sized businesses benefited a lot from the proliferation of digital payments. In 2019, Alipay's parent company Ant Financial announced 28 million small and medium-sized enterprises as their active customers. In the same year, around 50 million offline independent merchants were covered by WeChat Pay, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total individual businesses in China.
It is not a novelty for Chinese to pay with Alipay or WeChat Pay in a foreign country anymore. Fulfilling the demand created by the Chinese overseas traveler tourism market, Alipay was accepted by offline merchants in 56 markets across the globe in 2019. Respectively, 60 percent and 35.2 percent of Chinese tourists traveling abroad used Alipay and WeChat Pay.
In the domestic market, Chinese mobile payment companies have also lowered their barriers to overseas users. From November 2019, foreign tourists can use Alipay and WeChat Pay in China with credit cards issued from their countries.