Despite attempts from China’s Central Bank to chase merchants who refuse to accept cash, the country continues to favour mobile payments, as cash becomes more and more obsolete in the East Asian nation. 

According to a recent report from The Financial Times, digital payments in China are still booming, despite efforts from the country’s Central Bank to hunt down key players in the industry such as Ant Financial and Tencent. 

Mobile payments in China reached $17 trillion in 2017, said The Financial Times citing official data from research firm iResearch. The paper revealing these figures also showed that in 2018, the People’s Bank of China uncovered 602 cases in which retailers refused to accept cash from their clients. 

The Financial Times also quoted knowledge from the official Shanghai Securities News as well as representative from China’s central bank. Of the 602 cases, 588 had been settled through the use of policy communications and so-called “criticism-based education.” 

In a statement released in July arguing the illegality of refusing cash, the People’s Bank of China had stated: “In recent years, there have been problems with the circulation of renminbi cash, and the people’s response has been intense.

“Consumers at tourist areas, restaurants, and retail merchants have had their cash refused, which has damaged the renminbi’s legal status and consumers’ right to choose between payment methods,” the PBoC added. 

It is predicted that the digital payments market in China will increase by 21.8% from 2017 to 2023, highlighting a three-fold growth rate from US$29.93 trillion to US$96.73 trillion. Estimates also show that the total number of active mobile payment customers will double, from 562 million in 2017 to 956 million in 2023.