xi's moments

'Silver surfers' prepare to ride the wave of technology

By Zhang Yi | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-10 09:19

A customer scans a QR code to pay for goods at Chen Zhuying's vegetable stall in Nanping, Fujian province. [Provided to China Daily]

Many older people are keen to learn about modern services such as online payment platforms, internet shopping and food delivery apps. Zhang Yi reports.

Chen Zhuying runs a vegetable stall at a morning market in Nanping, Fujian province. After Chen tells her customers how much their goods cost, they scan a sheet of paper bearing her QR payment code and transfer the money to her account while she packs their goods.

Once payment has been made, Chen's phone buzzes with an alert that tells her the money has arrived in her mobile wallet.

Receiving payment used to be a hassle for the 68-year-old, who often had to fumble in her pocket for change while answering queries from customers at the busy stall.

But things became much easier after she set up mobile payment apps such as WeChat Pay and Alipay on her phone in July. The printed black-and-white QR code hanging on her stall has helped streamline the payment process.

Like Chen, many seniors in China have started to embrace internet-based mobile technology and enjoy the convenience of digital payment.

Data released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences at the end of 2017 showed that the proportion of internet users age 60 or older had risen to 5.2 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from the end of the previous year.

Meanwhile, a study published in June by Tencent, the owner of WeChat, said users age 55 and older spend an average 1.37 hours per day on the platform, and 50 percent of them use the online payment function.

Cashless society

By the start of October, Alipay had more than 700 million users in China, while more than 40 million small stores and sellers supported payment through QR code stickers, the company said.

Chen, the vegetable vendor, said: "Almost all my customers pay with their phones. It's convenient for both of us. They don't need their wallets, and giving them the wrong change is no longer a problem for me.

"I haven't encountered many problems since I started using it. It's not very complicated because I only use it to receive payments."

Zhu Naiqiang, lives in downtown Suzhou, Jiangsu province. He picked up the habit of making mobile payments in 2017. "Online shopping and mobile payment are musts in my life, bringing me convenience and also fun," he said.

The 72-year-old uses his phone to make payments when shopping or eating out, and also arranges hospital appointments, books train tickets, pays his electricity and water bills, recharges his phone and orders takeout food.

"I learned to use a local mobile app to buy vegetables and cooked food. I usually buy the food at night, and it is delivered to me the next day," said the former aerospace engineer who enjoys studying new technologies.

"Although many senior citizens stick to their old habits, it saves time and energy for me, especially in bad weather," he said, "Also, I don't have to rely on my children for many things."

Chen's daughter-in-law taught her how to use the payment app. Now, the QR code is an integral part of her business and she regularly uses the mobile check-out.

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