In a tech market that is moving as quickly as China`s, spotting the latest trends as they develop is crucial to reaching consumers and capturing sales. As of the first half of this year we have seen some interesting developments in both the sites that consumers use and how they pay for products. In China you can forget PayPal and Credit Cards its all about the likes of Alipay and Tenpay.
Only about 1 in 4 Chinese people own a credit card and they certainly don't use them to purchase goods on Tmall or Taobao, instead preferring to use one of the online payment services as below:
|Payment Method||Market Share|
% transaction volumes in 2013, according to iResearch
China is certainly embracing e-commerce with enthusiasm: advertising from e-commerce companies and websites are filling every available space. Logistics companies are growing exponentially with deliverymen on bikes, trikes and vans lugging packages around every corner of the major cities. It would be interesting to survey how many office hours are lost annually to e-commerce shopping.
The rise of WeChat and the fall of Weibo.
Weibo continues to lose popularity among China’s netizens with users abandoning it in favor of WeChat. A couple of reasons for this being the tightening of registration requirements for Weibo (requiring real ID`s) along with the appeal to users who prefer a combination of Twitter-like communication with a native mobile chat app experience.
For companies the prevalence of fake Weibo accounts has taken away the allure of gaining “1 million followers’ since the current going rate is 5 RMB for 1,000 fans and combined with its limited functionality companies are now looking at other platforms to engage consumers. WeChat on the other continues to innovate and improve, now allowing you to pay for some services, call a cab or even make purchases. WeChat has proven to be a superior marketing platform for business: merchants can advertise their products and send coupons by messaging directly to their subscribers.
Possibly the most significant development to watch will be the proliferation of more decentralized consumer finance integrated directly into smartphones. In recent months, China’s web giants, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have been applying for financial services licenses to be issued by the government. That will allow those companies to offer the same services that the banks do: savings portfolios, loans, insurance, and payment methods. Such new services would include savings and investment in funds like Alibaba’s Yuebao and Baidu’s Baifa, microfinance and peer-to-peer lending.
But who will process these payments: Alipay v`s Tenpay v`s Baidu.
Alibaba was the first to introduce its hugely popular Alipay system that today accounts for about 50% of all online transactions. It is currently the system used for buying products at the most popular online shopping sites and most importantly is trusted by consumers. However hot on its heals is Tenpay by Tencent which thanks to the popularity of Tencent’s WeChat platform, is projected to grow beyond that of Alipay due to its integration with the platform. Not to be left out Baidu was a late entrant to online payments with its Baidu Wallet. It focuses on mobile payments and the service will be integrated with other Baidu platforms and its 14 apps. Considering its 600 million users this should form a solid base for the system.
With the continuing expansion of China`s 4G network smartphone users are experiencing faster connections and more bandwidth meaning the ability to receive richer content, such as HD videos, as well as faster loading times for ecommerce sites and apps. This can only translate into an even wider adoption of e-commerce, which is completely mobilized. A Ministry of Industry and Information Technology forecast, which regulates China’s internet, stated that it aims to double the value of China`s e-commerce sales to RMB 18 trillion (USD 2.86 trillion) by the end of 2015 which would imply there is ample room for growth for payment provides, E-commerce sites and the logistics companies that support them.
Vast amounts of venture capital has poured into the Chinese online retail industry over the last few years and we are now seeing the effects. With a current estimated 250 million e-shoppers and an annual increase of 30 million new users, China e-commerce market is something not to be ignored.