Date
29 March 2017
Customers had to pay through Alipay accounts or in cash at some cashier-less supermarkets, in an experiment conducted by Sesame Credit last Friday. Photo: People.com.cn
Customers had to pay through Alipay accounts or in cash at some cashier-less supermarkets, in an experiment conducted by Sesame Credit last Friday. Photo: People.com.cn

How trustworthy are the Chinese?

If you walk into a cashier-less supermarket, will you for a second think of walking out without paying for the items you bought?

Two supermarkets, one in Beijing and the other in Hangzhou, conducted an one-day experiment last Friday to evaluate people’s trustworthiness.

The temporary self-service supermarkets were set up by Sesame Credit Management, which is a unit of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group.

After getting what they want; customers had to go to a self-help counter to pay through their Alipay account or in cash.

Most of the customers were disciplined in the morning, according to Sesame Credit. But the situation changed after lunch.

Three women came in, grabbed some expensive items, and then went straight out through the door.

Another group of guys took some luxury liquors and cigarettes, and left just 10 yuan at the counter.

Sesame Credit Management said sales of the Hangzhou store that day amounted to 16,700 yuan (US$2,700), while the actual money received by the store stood at around 13,700 yuan.

Thus, the payment ratio was 82 percent, which is quite good for Chinese standards.

The aim of setting up the temporary self-service supermarkets was to estimate the credit scoring of the Chinese, according to the Sesame Credit.

Credit checking is a mature industry in developed countries, but it is comparatively new in mainland China.

The government has been encouraging the banking and finance industries to set up their own credit rating systems.

Earlier this year, the People’s Bank of China gave a green light to Sesame Credit, Tencent Credit and six other companies to establish personal credit information units to complement the existing credit reference system.

Hu Tao, general manager of the Sesame Credit, said Chinese people give an impression of being not trustworthy, but there has been no method to quantify how trustworthy they can be.

The credit scoring system can have wide applications, including the assessment of mortgage loan applications or loans to startups.

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RC

EJ Insight writer

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