China is gradually getting rid of its reputation as a “country of fakes” in the technological sphere. Cameras that are suspiciously similar to GoPro are still being released here, and the Didi Chuxing local taxi order service was extremely reminiscent of Uber — until it added some unique functions and squeezed out a former competitor from China. But some Chinese companies are already considered to be leaders in new industries and business models.
There are several reasons for this. Competition in the protected space — Facebook, Twitter and Google’s search engine in China are blocked — mitigates the risks and provides space for experimentation. The size of the market also plays into the hands of China. But the transition to innovation also reflects a generation change. The new generation of entrepreneurs that emerged after the 90s initially perceives the world as global — they have a completely different mentality, closer to their peers in the United States or Europe than in the way their parents thought. Here are a few areas in which Chinese companies have particularly excelled.
For most of China, QR code is the key to the digital world. Placing QR code in front of a mobile device, users can rent a bike, pay for goods or exchange contact information: why do you need business cards, when you can just point your phone on the phone of your new friend?
In the USA, QR codes were actually out of use in 2013, but now many companies seem to change their mind. Snapchat started using QR codes for the exchange of contacts in 2015, taking over the idea from the WeChat Chinese application. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) this year introduces special “gift” QR codes, which you can get a discount in certain stores with, and Spotify uses technology to help customers share music.
China is actively developing the sharing of bicycles, using a completely new model, in which it was possible to abandon the use of fixed parking. The bicycle rental in Chinese cities is often better developed than in London and New York. Bicycle can be unlocked using a mobile application and left anywhere. Many services even track the position of bikes via GPS.
Mobike (orange) and Ofo (yellow) are leading on the market now. They are followed by Xiaoming blue bikes. One financier jokingly stated that the only obstacle to entering the market would be the moment when new companies run out of color.
The world froze in amazement when in June Amazon laid out $ 13.7 billion for Whole Foods, and thus brought its uncompromising competition methods, quite common in online space into the cozy world of homemade bread and organic cabbage.
But in China, no one is surprised by that. In May, Alibaba e-commerce giant bought a large stake in the Lianhua national supermarket chain; even before that, it had invested a large amount in the retail networks of Intime Retail and JD.com, presenting a plan to significantly expand its offline presence. Alibaba calls this model “new retail”: it connects the physical and digital markets to more effectively meet customer needs and, ultimately, get more data about their preferences.
There are still quite a few innovations in the Chinese market that can be used in the West. According to iResearch, the volume of the mobile payments market in the United States is only an irrelevant share of its volume in China – it reached $ 8.8 trillion last year there.
Digital gift money, which is used, for example, on the eve of the Chinese New Year — is also gaining popularity outside of China: the local Hike messenger (in which Tencent also invests) is promoting it in India.
WeChat — chat and social network from the Tencent Chinese company (HKEX: 0700) — has long been working for the benefit of the business world. The government, celebrities and businesses from Burberry to Mondelez are looking for an approach to the Chinese public with its help. Through the application, fashion shows are held, special offers and promotions are broadcast, and the news is published. According to industry media, WeChat has more than 20 million “official” accounts —-and this occurs despite the fact that not all businesses bother to obtain such status.
Now, WhatsApp is trying to follow this clearly successful model. To help companies keep in touch with their customers and make money, Facebook has started offering a special verification procedure that allows customers to make sure that they go to the right store or service.