Re: It's not the phones
Are they? Or are they just filling a gap in the Chinese system? Is using a smartphone everywhere, really clever, or just plain sully, too many eggs in one basket?
Is this truly a sophisticated payment method, or just a simpler solution for a country where probably everybody now has a smartphone, but payments cards are less common, and where a single big company with the proper hooks can enforce whatever it likes?
Frankly, I would not like a non-interoperable payment system controlled by a single entity like Alibaba or Apple. It is bad for seller as well - the more systems you have to accept, the more expensive for you is.
Is a chat app "sophisticated"? A chat app is the demo app everybody wrote while learning socket programming. Processing a QR code is probably a little more complex, but it's not rocket science, they are designed to be processed, it's not generic image recognition. I've been using boarding passes with bar/QR codes for years, even from phone apps, and never had issues for them to be processed.
Silicon Valley too is too obsessed with stupid apps and slurping data - and unluckily more activities go through a phone, more slurping by single entities happens... right now my phone maker doesn't know about my purchases. And I'm not sure I want it to know - where, when, what and how much. Nor I want to many entities looking for fees on each payment....