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Nielsen: 71 Percent Of Top-tier Chinese Consumers Choose Cards Over Cash As Preferred Payment Method For Everyday Spending

Sue Feng,, 010-5912-9195

Shanghai China, February 12, 2014 – One out of every two people around the world say their preferred payment method for daily spending is plastic rather than paper, according to a recent study by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Compared with the global average, this preference is much stronger in the top-tier cities of China, where 71 percent of respondents use cards vs. 22 percent that use cash.

Respondents from Nielsen’s Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies, which polled ore than 30,000 Interneti respondents in 60 countries, say their preferred form of payment is credit card (29%), debit card (23%) or prepaid card (2%) instead of cash (39%).

“The influence of urbanization and technology is apparent as more and more Chinese consumers prefer to use a card payment over cash for everyday purchasing, and we think the momentum will continue thanks to the further penetration of credit cards among Chinese consumers,” said Kevin Wang, Director of Nielsen China. “It again indicated a transformation from the era of ‘pay in cash’ to the era of ‘pay by cards’ in China’s consumption market.”

Among all the payment methods listed in the survey, credit cards are recognized as the “most preferred” by winning the favour of 48 percent of Chinese respondents, followed by cash (22%) and debit cards (21%).

The survey also shows that a majority of Chinese respondents use two or more payment cards on a regular basis. Forty-four percent use two payment cards on a regular basis – the highest among the 60 countries surveyed and well above the global average of 37 percent.

“Today’s Chinese consumers are not only drawn to card forms of payment because of convenience, but they are also drawn to benefits such as earning mileage points, gaining buyer protection and accessing merchant promotions,” Wang said. “The time is right for card issuers to use a segmented approach to developing products and promotions that are more closely aligned with their spending behaviors.”

The Move to Mobile/Online

Nielsen reports that 22 percent of Chinese respondents are already using electronic payments as their second most preferred payment vehicle, exceeding the global average of 14 percent.

When it comes to cyber-safety concerns, Chinese respondents report the highest level of confidence in the world in using their payment cards on a mobile device. The survey shows that more than 70 percent of Chinese respondents (74%) say they feel comfortable shopping online and using their payment card on either a smartphone or tablet device as long as their personal information is protected. Nearly one-fifth (17%) is more hesitant, saying they may use their credit or debit cards for online payment, and one-fourth (26%) would not use their cards on either a smartphone or tablet.

“Further enticement to online shopping has been made with the advancement of electronic wallet solutions that facilitate the use of cards in a virtual environment by creating secure payment channel alternatives,” said Wang. “In this regard, both banks and card issuers should catch the best opportunity of the robust growth of electronic or mobile payment in China. By providing a more convenient and secure platform, combined with value-added services and better promotions, issuers have an opportunity to drive cardholder satisfaction and loyalty, and finally, push forward the next wave of consumption growth.”

About the Nielsen Global Survey
The Nielsen Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies was conducted between August 14 and September 6, 2013, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia- Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Survey, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

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i While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.