Mobile payments in China, including their usefulness in mobile phone surveys

Grant Data
Project Title
Mobile payments in China, including their usefulness in mobile phone surveys
Principal Investigator
Professor Bacon-Shone, John   (Principal investigator)
Miss Sun Xiaoyin   (Co-Investigator)
Start Date
Completion Date
Conference Title
Presentation Title
Survey Methodology, Mobile Phones, Incentives
Others - Administrative, Business and Social Studies (Obsolete)
RGC Direct Allocation Grant
HKU Project Code
Grant Type
Small Project Funding
Funding Year
Mobile payments in China: With 460 million mobile phone users in China and continuing fast growing penetration especially in rural areas, a number of players, including operators, banks, and mobile payment service providers are now participating in this emerging market and some initial products have been provided. The biggest player, UMPay, has increased its users to 30 million as of May 2007, although it is still small as compared to the mass market. While creating an effective and secure environment still needs time to address regulatory requirements and multi-sector partnerships, the special characteristics in China like the low penetration of credit cards and continued preferences for cash payments are also the essential factors for the extension of market. As banks exclude many people without debit/credit cards in rural China from basic financial services and the mobile penetration is growing tremendously among the rural regions, this suggests that mobile phones have great potential to empower them. What's more, remittances from urban migrants to mass rural recipients is a key component in the mobile payment market, according to successful global experience. As China shares similar problems with those developing countries with more than 100 million migrant workers who remit their earnings to their hometown every year, mobile money transfers may also offer easier, safer and more rapid money transfer channels. This all suggests that understanding current remittances transfer status among the mobile phone users would also be important. Mobile Survey Methodology: The rapid switch of many households away from fixed line to mobiles for all household members, means that mobile surveys will soon overtake fixed line surveys worldwide. The charging schemes for mobile make it essential for surveyors to find mechanisms to provide incentives, at the very least to refund the cost of their airtime to survey participants. Mobile payments provide a perfect opportunity to explore this possibility and this is an area where Asia is leading the world. This study aims to: 1. Assess the applicability of existing mobile payment products and services among different types of mobile phone users. 2. Assess the market availability for the domestic and overseas remittances via mobile phones as the potential service. 3. Explore the way to transfer survey incentives via mobile phones, as a trial to discuss the feasibility and usefulness of money transfers via mobile phones. 4. Identify the survey methodology issues related to mobile phone surveys such as optimal fieldwork strategies, usefulness of text messages prompts, etc. Resources and advantages: 1. SSRC has experience doing interviewing in many Asian cities over the phone from HK and the availability of computer-aided telephone interviewing (CATI) keeps the costs low. 2. Our survey strategy of sending incentives via the mobile phones gives us the opportunity to contact third parties to find effective money transfer solutions as an integrated part of the whole research topic.