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It’s no surprise at this point that Chinese tourists prefer to shop abroad using mobile payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Both services have seen their global acceptance expand significantly over the last few years, and reports of use during major travel holidays have only reinforced the perception that businesses absolutely must adopt these payment options to succeed.

Considering the huge increase in spending via mobile payment platforms during the National Day holiday travel period in October, it wasn’t a question of whether the Chinese New Year holiday would see an increase in digital transactions but a question of how much it would increase and who would drive that growth. And sure enough, Alipay and WeChat Pay have just released data showing who has been spending via the most popular mobile payment platform processed during the holiday.

While overall spending numbers from Alipay aren’t out yet, some of the new demographic information may push marketing departments to alter their campaigns in the future. Mobile Pay platforms have always focused on younger generations from major cities since they are seen as having embraced technology the most, but Alipay’s data shows that the greatest gains during this New Year’s holiday came from smaller cities and older users. This may indicate a shift overall or just that more parents are adopting the use of mobile payments while traveling.

Travelers from third- and fourth-tier cities outspent their counterparts from first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou during the holiday, according to Alipay. In addition, middle-aged travelers from two different groups — born between 1960-69 and born between 1970-79 — saw big jumps in their overseas spending, with the first group’s consumption abroad growing 250 percent year-on-year while the second group saw an increase of 232 percent. The total number of Alipay users born between 1960 and 1969 also grew at a rapid rate: 230 percent from last year.

Older generations saw a huge increase in mobile payment use during the Lunar New Year holiday

Meanwhile, Alipay’s main competitor, WeChat Pay, reported users spent about $180 million (RMB 1.2 billion) with the app both domestically and internationally during the six-day holiday from February 4 to 9. It also backed up Alipay’s demographic data, noting that holiday travelers from smaller cities accounted for about 40 percent of spending via the app.

Data from WeChat noted that France was among the top 10 foreign countries with the greatest WeChat Pay spending volume — the first time the country made the list and an indication that more retailers and businesses have adopted the platform. It was joined in the list of top non-mainland destinations for the holiday by Hong Kong, Macau, and Bangkok, respectively.

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