China is continuing to leap ahead with innovations that will rock the world. From the mobile Internet, to online entertainment to on-demand cars and bikes, to mobile payment to e-commerce, China is setting world standards. It’s China’s tech titans Alibaba, Tencent, JD and Baidu that are leading the pack.
These trends can be found in Mary Meeker’s latest Internet report, which devotes a good chunk of its findings to this dynamic dragon nation.
What jumps out the most is China’s advancements in on-demand transportation – a market that has developed practically overnight and has doubled since last July. With 20 million already into bike sharing, China alone accounts for more than three-quarters share of the world’s market. Two-thirds of China’s bike-sharing bicyclists ride three times per week, most frequently for commuting or that important last-mile connection to public transit.
E-commerce is another sector where China is leading the trends. Some 15% of retail sales were made online in China last year. The U.S., by comparison, stood at 11%. China’s B2C e-commerce is not slowing down either, with strong growth of 24% in 2016. This compares with a 15% growth rate in the U.S. for e-commerce. In another telling indicator of China’s digital advances, mobile accounted for 71% of the $681 billion in gross merchandise e-commerce value in China.
In China, the action is clearly centered on the mobile Internet, where the number of users grew 12% last year to 700 million. The time that users in China spend on the mobile Internet has gained remarkably, by 30% last year. Get this: three-quarters spent more than four hours daily on the mobile Internet, playing games, buying goods, watching video, listening to music and the like. In the U.S., adult users spend three hours per day on the mobile Internet.
In China’s increasingly mobile-centric society, mobile payments stand out as yet one more indicator of how fast change is coming as cash and bank cards are replaced. Mobile payment volume in China doubled last year to $5 trillion, led by the very dominant AliPay and WeChat, which own the market. Mobile pay is especially popular for small transactions such as buying street food, renting a bike, charging a phone or online tipping.
Livestreaming is one more example of China leading digital trends. It’s the number one source of revenue per hour in China, surging past online games, TV, video, radio and music. But in the U.S., livestreaming has not caught on yet. Livestreaming does not show up on a chart of online entertainment revenues in the U.S. – it’s about games, video, music and books instead.