Social Networks, e-Commerce Platforms, and the Growth of Digital Payment Ecosystems in China: What it Means for Other Countries

Case Study published April 19, 2017

Social Networks, e-Commerce Platforms, and the Growth of Digital Payment Ecosystems in China: What it Means for Other Countries

The rapid growth of social networks and e-commerce platforms has transformed the way people communicate and transact around the world. Integrating digital payments into these growing networks and platforms has presented vast opportunities to drive economic opportunity, financial inclusion, transparency, security and growth. In practically all countries individuals, businesses and policy-makers are recognizing these opportunities and acting on them, but perhaps nowhere more so than in China.

This report examines two of China’s most far-reaching applications – WeChat and Alipay – and explores their role in the development of one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated digital payments ecosystems. The report illustrates how incorporating digital payments into existing services has unlocked economic opportunities for hundreds of millions of users, including through low-risk savings accounts, new credit assessment and lending services, and by opening up new markets for micro, small and medium enterprises.

As China’s economy is unique, this report has also identified key factors in the successful integration of digital payments into social networks and payment platforms. In this way, the report aims to provide lessons that can be assessed, and where relevant, applied in other markets beyond China. As social networks and e-commerce continue to grow and offer new opportunities as well as risks, the report adds to a body of knowledge about how digital payments can improve lives and strengthen economies in all parts of the world.

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