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Mobile apps saving money, making money

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-20 07:17

A customer of Alipay, the mobile payment system, scans the Chinese character fu, meaning good fortune. The company gives cash rewards to customers who "collect" fu before Spring Festival. [Photo by Ma Jian/China Daily]

Changing habits brought by smart devices help create $35b market

It's fair to say that many Chinese have become heavily reliant on their smartphones-or, to be more exact, the wealth of apps they use daily to shop, travel and chat with friends.

The country had a staggering 772 million internet users at the last count, 97 percent of whom access the web using a smartphone, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, or CNNIC.

But what apps are having the biggest impact? Based on the research, those related to saving time and money are leading the downloads.

About 70 percent of smartphone users have completed at least one transaction using a mobile payment app, either at a physical or online store, according to a Jan 31 report by the CNNIC. Meanwhile, 40 percent have ordered a food delivery over an app, and 30 percent have taken a ride on a shared bike.

Cheetah Global Lab, a mobile internet research institute based in Beijing, released a list of the top 10 app categories in 2017 based on growth in the weekly active penetration rate (basically the number of users who logged on at least once a week).

These were bike-sharing, fresh grocery delivery, short-form videos, mobile payment, online-to-offline retail, apps connected to smartwatches for children, wealth management, logistics, banking, and news.

Racing ahead were bike-sharing apps, which had a bumper 2017. The weekly penetration rate in December was six times higher than at the start of last year, the Cheetah Global Lab data showed.

Some players did go bust due to the intense competition, but the market leaders have thrived. Fueled by success, Mobike has even announced plans to swap two wheels for four by entering China's nascent shared car sector.

"The three major characteristics of the bike-sharing sector in China last year were business development, market consolidation and industry standardization," said Guo Yue, senior analyst with the CNNIC.

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