The environment in Hangzhou, China today is similar to many other cities around the world: building sites become shiny new shops, offices and apartments; new infrastructure moves people faster than ever, and a vibrant community of people work, study and spend their leisure time. But in one important respect, Hangzhou is quite different.
A blueprint for China and beyond
In addition to being the home of Chinese technology giant Alibaba and payment service provider Alipay, Hangzhou is a virtually cashless city. Almost everything including utilities, taxis, public transport and retail, services can be paid via smartphone. Naturally, many of Hangzhou’s citizens experience quite a culture shock when they visit other cities and have to pay by cash or card. However, the expectation is that paying with mobile will become more the norm in other Chinese cities. How will this rapid and profound shift in the way that people and businesses pay for goods and services affect corporate treasurers?
Although the pace of change can be quicker in some markets, the migration away from cash collections has been well-received by most businesses, not only within China but also globally. Electronic collections are now cheaper, more secure and notably accompanied by richer data. This can all be harnessed to offer intelligence and insight into customers and their behaviours to target marketing campaigns, design incentive programmes and formulate strategies. As regional and global corporations gain experience and recognise the value of electronic collections in one city or country, they are able to transfer this experience to their operations elsewhere, which further accelerates adoption.