In 1958, Frank Sinatra came out with his bestselling album Come Fly With Me.
Ironically, around 80% of Americans had never actually stepped onto a plane at the time. Maybe its popularity had some aspirational appeal.
Today, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t hopped on a plane.
In fact, overseas travel is in such high demand we could face pilot shortages in the near future.
It should come as no surprise that Australia is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
Great beaches, friendly culture, exciting night life…we have it all.
That’s why each year, we see more visitors come down under.
Last year, more than 8.7 million visitors came to Australia, a large majority coming from China.
I’m sure this doesn’t come as much of a shock. You’ve probably read all about Chinese tourists fuelling Australia’s tourism boom.
But did you know, as more come to enjoy their Aussie holiday, Chinese tourists will change the way you buy everything?
Let me explain…
What’s a credit card?
During the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, around 6.5 million will travel abroad.
Most will only bring clothes and a smartphone.
Wallets, cash and credit cards aren’t common items in China.
While we in the West love our credit cards, Chinese seems to have skipped them altogether.
The country didn’t get their first credit card until 1985. And because they were late to the plastic card party, it’s been easy for them to leapfrog the West.
Author David Wolman explains that less developed countries like China had ‘minimal obstacles preventing the implementation and adoption of a superior [payment] system.’
That superior system is mobile payments.
26 year old Xia Yue, who lives in Beijing, is the typical case in China.
When she leaves home, she doesn’t take a wallet full of cards and cash. She leave home with her smartphone and house key.
Next year, she probably won’t even take the key.
‘My finance professor used to tell everyone that cash is king,’ Yue said. ‘But now, at least literally, it no longer is.’
Millions of people across China do the same. They take their smartphone everywhere, and not much else. And that’s because almost everything in China can be done through a smartphone.
Over 80% of Chinese supermarkets allow you to pay with your mobile. Most restaurants, forms of transport and retail outlets will too.
And as Aussie businesses fast adopt the QR (Quick Response) code to cash in on Chinese tourists, you could soon be leaving your wallet at home too.
The barcode of China
Shopping used to be a tedious activity.
Not only for shoppers who had to wait in long lines. The delays and the regular stocktaking was costing retailer’s money.
It wasn’t until Norman Woodland created the barcode that shopping became a pleasant experience.
In 1949, Woodland had an epiphany on Miami Beach.
Sitting on the sand, he drew lines with his fingers. The lines, coloured black and white, would represent numbers from 0-9.
Machines could then read these lines with LED or laser lights.
Source: Explain that stuff
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The idea revolutionised retailing.
But since, the barcode has taken on a new form in China — the QR code. A QR code is similar to a barcode, but has two major benefits.
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First is its ability to store vast amounts of data.
For example, you can store contract data, URLs, emails, phone numbers, plain text and even a location. The above QR code is the URL for the mobile Wikipedia home page.
Second is its usability with smartphones.
Thanks to the QR codes, around 92% of internet users in China purchase goods offline via their smartphone.
The preference to pay by mobile hasn’t gone unnoticed by Aussie businesses.
You can now find QR codes in Aussie wineries, mechanics, retail stores, pet shops, hotels, property developers, dentists and many more businesses.
One Aussie olive oil farmer put QR codes on his bottles. The code confirms the olive oil’s authenticity and also sends Chinese consumers a personalised video upon scanning.
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As Chinese households continue to grow wealthier, the case to accept mobile payments via QR codes only becomes stronger.
We might end up doing away with plastic cards and cash altogether. Chinese tourists are now paving the way for Australia’s own mobile revolution.
No more cash, no more plastic.
The only thing you’ll need on your way out the door is a smartphone.
Editor, Money Morning