German Internet celebrity in China calls on Merkel to promote cashless economy Published: 2017/7/4 14:40:09

Twenty-eight-year-old German-born Thomas Derksen (@阿福Thomas), an online celebrity with millions of Chinese fans on Weibo and Meipai and other social networks, recently posted a public letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Weibo and Facebook, calling for the promotion of a cashless economy in Germany.

Having lived in Shanghai, China, for ten years, Derksen has witnessed the rapid development of Chinese innovation, such as bike sharing, mobile payment, and the expansion of various Alibaba products.

In his public letter to Merkel, Derksen spoke highly of China's booming cashless economy in particular. "No matter [if] I want to pay the taxi driver, buy flowers for my wife, buy a bottle of water, or even pay my electricity bill, I can do all that with my mobile phone," he wrote. "Mobile payment not just helps us save time, is safer and more convenient for customers and vendors, but also is more sanitary and economical."

Last year, Derksen made a daytrip from Shanghai to Hangzhou using only his mobile phone for payments. His story, which is posted on Weibo, was widely shared, and attracted tens of millions of Chinese fans.

According to a recent survey, 70% of mainland netizens say they don't need cash for everyday life. Alipay, the most used mobile payment system in China, plans to make China cashlessy within five years.

"As a qualified bank clerk in Germany, I experienced how important cash still is for the Germans," said Derksen. "Germans are very conservative, fearing the potential risks of new things. Chinese people, on the contrary, are very willing to try something new."

Most Germans are used to paying with cash, and no more than five percent of Germans have used mobile payment. Hamburg, Germany, will hold this year's G20 Summit from June 7 to 8, which could be a great opportunity to call on the German government to promote a cashless economy like China's, Derksen told The Global Times.

"I believe that the German diligence and reliability, together with the Chinese flexibility and strive for innovation will lead to good results in engineering, economy and culture. I am sure that under your guidance, cashless economy can become more and more popular in Germany and can make the life of Germans easier and more convenient," Derksen wrote in his letter to Merkel.

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