There’s been a lot of talk about how mobile payments are on the rise in China — and now statistics from the People’s Bank of China have shed some light on how huge the industry is (hat/tip TechNode).

In 2013, the central bank handled a total of 1.67 billion mobile payment transactions worth a whopping CNY9.64 trillion ($1.6 trillion), according to the latest statistics. In an indication of the skyrocketing popularity of mobile payments in China, the number of transactions soared 213 percent year-on-year while the transaction value leaped by 317 percent.

(The initial number of transactions was noted wrongly and we’ve corrected it accordingly.)

Mobile payments grew the fastest among all the e-payment methods recorded by the central bank last year — which include online payments via computers, as well as telephone payments.

Compared to mobile payments, the value of e-payment transactions in total increased by only 29.46 percent — to reach CNY1,075 trillion ($177 trillion) in 2013. 

Mobile payments have been thrust into the limelight especially after Chinese Internet giant Tencent rolled out an update to its mobile messaging app Weixin (known as WeChat outside of China) that incorporated payments. Subsequently, early this year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba integrated its payments service with ‘China’s Twitter’ Sina Weibo, so users can connect their Alipay accounts with their Weibo accounts and buy items without having to log in.

Throughout 2013, there has been plenty of evidence that mobile payments in China were gaining importance among Chinese shoppers — just take a look at the statistics provided by Alibaba. In October 2013, Alibaba said that about 25,000 Alipay mobile transactions took place every minute, resulting in a daily transaction value of more than CNY20 billion ($3.3 billion) on Alipay. During its 11.11 shopping festival, Alibaba also revealed that about 21 percent of orders were being placed via mobile devices — up from a mere 5 percent a year earlier.

China ended last year with 618 million Internet users and 500 million mobile Internet users, according to a report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). With the sheer volume of mobile Internet users, this will no doubt aid the mobile payments industry, which is only set to grow rapidly given that e-commerce is shaping up to be the future for chat apps.

Headline image via Lintao Zhang/Getty Images