Blockchain technology's momentum has grown significantly in China and it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. Since Chinese New Year, frequent good news has accelerated this trend – The People’s Daily published a whole page talking about how to develop this technology, and it’s been a hot topic even in the ongoing “two sessions” National Party Congress.
The top three tech giants in China - Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, previously did not talk much about their blockchain development, but with a much more receptive public and regulatory environment, they have revealed a bit more about where they have been focused.
In 2017, the Chinese smartphone market saw its first ever decline, with -4% YoY growth in smartphone shipments and -4.9% YoY growth in smartphone sales.
In China, bar code payments (including QR codes) dominate the mobile payment market. Using a bar code to pay is easy, but comes with risks. In 2017, about RMB 90 million ($14 million) was stolen due to fraud. On December 25th, 2017, the People’s Bank of China (the PBOC) released new regulation to standardize bar code payments. The regulation will come into effect from April 1st, 2018.
In August this year, WeBank announced that its lending product “Wei Li Dai” (WeChat Loan) has exceeded RMB100 billion (USD14.7 billion).
Hike messenger, a popular phone messaging service app in India, has recently decided to introduce payment services on its platform.
A few days ago, the upstart Chinese manufacturer of android-based smartphones Xiaomi launched a public beta of their new online money-market fund. With Chinese tech companies furiously investing in and creating platforms bundling key products and services together, could we see Xiaomi competing directly with Alipay and Wechat in the near future?
On December 12th, Webank, the proposed bank from Tencent received regulatory approval to start operations.
With Alibaba in the US for a one-week road show before what might be the biggest tech IPO that we've ever seen, Alibaba's competitors are battening down the hatches for an extended battle for the face of e-commerce in China.
The latest payment report released by PBOC shows that in 2014Q1, electronic payments kept a steady growth with the most eye-catching performance being from mobile payments.
The latest financials from Tencent Group shows that overall growth stayed strong in the first quarter of 2014 as revenue hit RMB 18.4 billion, 78% of which were value-added services. E-commerce however suffered as revenues declined 24% as compared to Q4 2013. Tencent indicated that the lagging performance was a seasonal factor; in addition Tencent has recently re-focused its e-commerce strategy.
As known, Tencent setup a partnership with Jingdong this year, acquiring 15% of the online retailer which also holds QQ wanggou and Paipai. The acquisiton is an indication that Tencent is serious about e-commerce, but they still seem to be searching for the right business model. Yet with Alibaba listing soon, Tencent will have to show rapid returns on their investment in order to keep a increasingly impatient set of investors happy. Tencent's e-commerce challenges must now be confronted to stay ahead of the game.