Why aren’t credit cards popular in China, the world's second largest economy?
Sean McDirmid, lived in Beijing, China (2007-2016)
As others have stated, China has leaped frog credit cards to mobile payments, something that has been difficult to take of in the west because they already have credit cards.
Now, there is something else: China was never able to handle credit cards very well. The banks, for example, would get ripped off a lot and so it would be difficult to acquire a credit card (especially if you are a foreigner without the backing of your company). For the same reason that personal checks never really existed in China, credit cards never became popular because the trust needed to use them effectively didn’t exist.
Not only that, but the rules are very different. Normally, when fraud occurs, the bank that issued the credit card would require the merchant to provide proof that the transaction was legit…the burden of proof is always on the merchant! However, in China, the burden of proof is on the card user instead, making credit cards much more dangerous to use. In fact, many businesses abroad will look for these credit cards (e.g. issued by ICBC) to take advantage of, meaning Chinese credit card users have become increasingly attractive targets of fraud given their bank’s policies.