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WeChat Wallet Utilises QR Codes For Digital Transaction

wechat-and-qr-8QR codes might seem old school in the fast-paced world of digital marketing. However, in China, they have transformed communications app WeChat into a world-leading example of mobile social commerce.

The success of QR in China is mainly due to the country’s popular mobile messaging platform WeChat. Each time the app is downloaded, a QR code reader is embedded into the user’s phone. Perhaps, if Facebook had done the same here, or perhaps Apple had released iPhones with a pre-installed code reader, things may have been different here.

WeChat and QR Codes

There are now more than 600 million people using WeChat (or Weixin as it’s known by its Chinese users).

Since WeChat Wallet was launched in 2015, Chinese consumers are also using the QR code feature to pay utility bills, go Dutch when out with friends, book a taxi, visit a doctor, buy movie tickets and reserve seats at restaurants.

This is what the user interface looks like inside the WeChat user’s WeChat Wallet feature:

wechat-and-qr-1

The user links the wallet to a Chinese bank account. The system works more like a direct debit system, where users top up their wallet rather than having money deducted directly from the bank account.

It also means that WeChat acts as an interface between the consumer and the vendor. At no point does the vendor have access to the buyer’s bank details.

The key here is mobile. Like many new and emerging markets in Asia, China is a mobile first country.

According to eMarketer, 88% of China’s 700 million internet users are going online using a mobile. WeChat’s innovation started for mobile, and continues to evolve for mobile.

Here are some examples highlighting the simplicity of the QR code payment inside the WeChat Wallet feature:

1. Online movie payments

In our previous story on QR codes in China, one reader mentioned our omission of payments.

As an example, he talked about the simplicity of buying and watching online videos in China. Misha Maruma says when it’s time to pay for a movie, he scans the QR code that pops up on the screen using the reader in WeChat and in a matter of seconds the movie has been paid for using WeChat Wallet.

wechat-and-qr-2

2. Booking, buying and redeeming movie theatre tickets

By clicking the ‘Movie Tickets’ feature inside WeChat Wallet, the user is taken to WeChat’s movie app, WePiao.

The user is asked to select their city. It then brings up movies currently showing in that location.

wechat-and-qr-3

After selecting the movie, the theatre location, and seats, the user inputs a six digit WeChat Wallet pin number and the rest is done. A keycode for redeeming the ticket at the theatre is then sent to the user as an instant message.

At the theater, the user enters the code into a kiosk, and the ticket is printed.

Alibaba’s Alipay also uses a similar system.

3. Restaurants

Some restaurants have established sophisticated platforms inside WeChat.

For example, popular chain restaurant Dian Dou De in Guangzhou, uses a location feature to show users where it closest branches are, distances and table wait times, (including breakdowns on table sizes).

wechat-and-qr-4

Once the user has picked their restaurant, they join the virtual queue.

The user can then view the menu, which includes pictures and prices, order, and pay all within the WeChat platform.

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4. Booking a doctor, paying medical bills and ordering pharmaceuticals

Anyone who has visited a Chinese hospital knows what a time-consuming experience this is. People queue from the early hours to pre-pay the registration, queue to see a doctor, queue to pay the bill, queue again to pay for meds, and queue to receive the goods.

Some hospitals have set up accounts on WeChat allowing patients to book ahead, and pay the pre-registration and prescriptions bills.

Each hospital will offer different services on WeChat depending on their CRM and how much they want to invest into the system. WeChat is just the platform, how hospitals decide to use it, is up to them.

5. Booking a taxi

Didi Kuaidi is the result of a merger between the taxi-hailing businesses of two of China’s biggest technology companies – Tencent (parent company of WeChat) and Alibaba in February 2015. It was set up in part to take on Uber’s expansion in China.

Through the WeChat Wallet ‘Order Taxi’ feature, users can book and pay for the ride without reaching for cash or card.

wechat-and-qr-6

6. Go Dutch

Of all the WeChat Wallet features, being able to share a meal with friends without worrying about how to split the bill, has to be one of the best!

No longer do diners have to worry about having enough cash, or going through the complicated process of working out whose credit card is whose at the end of the meal.

The ‘Go Dutch’ feature lets friends split the bill easily. Unlike a bank transfer, there is no wait time.

When the money is sent between friends, it moves between wallets instantly.

wechat-and-qr-7

7. In-store retail payments

Uniqlo, McDonald’s, Pacific Coffee and 7-Eleven are some of the brands allowing customers to pay in-store with their mobile phones.

When it’s time to pay, the user allows the vendor to scan the personal QR code from their WeChat Wallet and the money is instantly deducted from the user’s account.

Vendors don’t need a special scan either. Entrepreneurial street sellers can also receive payment so long as they have a WeChat account. The consumer scans the vendor’s QR code from inside the wallet’s ‘Transfer’ feature. They then input the amount to be paid.

WeChat is not the first to introduce online and offline retail payment options. Alibaba’s Alipay has been available in number of stores for some time, including KFC and Walmart.

Conclusion

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different ways Chinese consumers are using WeChat to make payments.

There are around 200 million Weixin (Chinese WeChat) and QQ accounts linked to a bank account. Some of those users could be the same person on both platforms, but it is still a lot of Chinese consumers purchasing goods through a messaging app.

What does it mean for brands? Chinese consumers are on WeChat, and are now paying for goods and services through WeChat Wallet.

They use it because it is simple, easy and the transfer of funds passes through a trustworthy platform.

Whether the business is an airline, a hospital, a restaurant or a bricks-and-mortar retail brand, having a presence on this platform has obvious marketing benefits.

Australia’s Bigcommerce Has Secured A Partnership Deal With China’s Retailer Company, Alibaba

alibaba-bigcommerce-partnership

Forming a partnership recently, Alibaba will incorporate its buyer and supplier network with Bigcommerce’s e-commerce platform.

Australia-based e-commerce company, Bigcommerce, has announced a new partnership with China’s giant Alibaba on Wednesday. This will provide both companies a greater global access to products and services.

“With this Alibaba partnership, we are helping our merchants grow their online businesses every step of the way — from sourcing to selling. Alibaba provides access to the world’s largest network of suppliers and manufacturers of goods that will help our merchants build their online presence and expand into new revenue opportunities,” said Eddie Machaalani, the co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce.

Latest research has revealed that 84% of online sellers find that establishing a drop ship supplier or wholesaler relationship is the biggest roadblock to starting an online business. This move brings together online businesses with trusted suppliers to make it easier to find, purchase and stock products from all over the world, added the official note.

“We are partnering with Bigcommerce to make it easy for our customers to do business anywhere in the world. Alibaba and Bigcommerce together are building an integrated ecommerce ecosystem and helping to introduce more small and medium-sized merchants and online stores to the global market,” said Michael Lee, Alibaba’s Director of Global Marketing and Business Development.

Over 55,000 Bigcommerce merchants will be able to source more than 1.5 million products directly from manufacturers around the world. They will have shortened sourcing cycle, access to hard-to-find inventory, simplified buying process and streamlined checkout. Plus, it’s a secure way to connect with trusted suppliers.

Taobao Smashes Mobile Shopping Record, Over $100 Million in Sales in Less Than 1 Hour

During China’s annual Singles Day shopping blitz on November 11th, Taobao, China’s leading e-commerce marketplace, gained up RMB 1 billion ($164 million) in mobile purchases from over 14 million user accounts. Taobao took just over four minutes to complete RMB 100 million ($16.4 million) in mobile purchases. Mobile sales volume also reached RMB 2 billion ($328 million).

November 11, also known as Singles Day, is the biggest shopping day of the year in China. Sales are ongoing for the entire 24-hour period at both major and minor retailers across the country. Taobao’s massive influx of mobile shoppers shows how quick the Chinese have been to adapt to mobile trends. Last year on Single’s Day, RMB 960 million ($158 million) worth of mobile purchases were made in the entire 24 hours. This year, it only took one hour to beat that record. By the time today is over, Taobao expects total mobile sales to be five to ten times more than last year.

Last year, total sales through Alibaba’s third-party payment system Alipay reached RMB 19.1 billion ($3.1 billion) on Single’s Day. This year, estimates lie somewhere in between RMB 30 billion and RMB 50 billion ($4.9 billion and $8.2 billion). Alibaba, which owns Taobao, is the main player responsible for building what is becoming known as the “Black Friday” of China. Alibaba’s Tmall has also fared well so far, with $500 million spent in the first 20 minutes after midnight.

The Growth of Chinese E-Commerce Business

china economy becomes the world's second largest

As the world’s largest populated country, China is often billed as the world’s second-largest economy and e-commerce market as well. However, China is likely to pass the United States to become the world’s largest e-commerce market before the end of 2013.

Shocking fact: China’s market is on pace to reach $296 billion this year, compared to $252 billion for the United States

Chinese e-commerce companies earned $210 billion in revenues in 2012, and the market has been growing at 120 percent annually since 2003, according to a March report from the management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company. E-commerce commands 5 to 6 percent of total retail sales in China, compared to 5 percent of U.S. sales conducted online.

Why China has this huge spike in growth? Here are the three main reasons:

1. Buying Things (Especially Luxuries) Online

Hal Josephson, founder of MediaSense said “China cannot help being the largest e-commerce market on the planet — with over 500 million Internet users and one out of almost five phones on the planet.”

With 242 million online shoppers in 2012, China’s population of e-commerce shoppers will soon exceed the entire population of the United States. As buyers keep getting richer and more sophisticated, they increasingly purchase big-ticket items online. The luxury segment is booming, from Smart Cars to Lamborghinis.

The rise of mobile is also critical. Chinese consumers shop online using gadgets like smartphones and tablets more frequently than their counterparts elsewhere. Some 58 percent of Chinese respondents shop online at least once a week — versus 42 percent of U.S. shoppers — and they’re twice as likely as the global average to shop using mobile devices.

2. Unique Shopping Habits

90 percent of Chinese electronic retailing occurs on virtual marketplaces—sprawling e-commerce platforms where manufacturers, large and small retailers, and individuals offer products and services to consumers through online storefronts on large e-commerce sites like eBay or Amazon Marketplace. A large and growing network of third-party service providers offer sellers marketing and site-design services, payment fulfillment, delivery and logistics, customer service and IT support.

That means companies like Alibaba, which owns Taobao and Tmall, wields enormous influence on Chinese e-commerce. The Economist says those two sites handled more sales than Amazon and eBay combined. Vendors must learn to work with these marketplaces to negotiate the market’s complex logistics especially in second– and third–tier cities.

Other differences include a much higher percentage of consumer-to-consumer sales — 77 percent to roughly 20 percent, per Sapient Nitro. Chinese e-commerce customers also communicate differently. Most customers in China do their online shopping during working hours and most tend to use online chat for customer support.

There’s one more critical difference: payment. Debit cards, not credit cards, are the dominant payment method in China. Cash-on-delivery is still widely used and online orders are generated before payment information is entered.

3. Evolving Market

Most observers see the pace of Chinese e-commerce only increasing, along with the opportunity to find profits in the market. Understanding and exploiting Chinese e-purchasers will prove to be the most strategic market positioning any company can strive to achieve. Possible challenges include competition-driven price drops that could erode the healthy profit margins currently enjoyed by many Chinese e-commerce vendors. (Chinese e-commerce customers are heavily motivated by deals.) China is also said to be drafting laws to more closely regulate the e-commerce sector.

However,the biggest unknown is how long the large online marketplaces will continue to dominate the market. As the Chinese retail and payment infrastructure continues to improve and physical retail chains expand nationally, there could be a move toward a more decentralized approach to e-commerce in the country. Such a transition could open up opportunities for new players, but bring additional uncertainty to vendors now working with the large marketplaces.

China: The New E-Commerce Market of The World (Infographic)

China is not only widely known as the most populated country in the world, but also a big home for online shopping. More that 242 million Chinese online shops are on the Internet, and this number is still increasing. This is of course a good news for many investors who want to build their online business on China. Take a look at this infographic for more detailed information.

Taobao Juhuasuan Gained US$ 3.3 Billion Sales in 2012

After the initial fuss over Groupon clones in China a couple of years ago, the daily deals sector in the country ended up being dominated by a familiar name: Taobao. With 34% market share by revenue, Taobao Juhuasuan has shown that the homegrown e-commerce giant Alibaba was able to adapt to deals alongside its other online retailing sites. Over the weekend, Alibaba revealed that its own deals site hit 20.75 billion RMB (US$ 3.3 billion) in sales [1] in the whole of 2012. That figure is 2.03 times greater than it was in 2011.

website design and marketing in sydney australia

Alibaba also disclosed that Taobao Juhuasuan (atju.taobao.com), not to be confused with the C2Conline mall that Alibaba runs at Taobao.com, has achieved a peak of 16 million visits. The deals portal saw an average of eight million unique visitors throughout the year.

The e-commerce firm has been diversifying its deals so as to differentiate Juhuasuan from its many competitors. One example was the recent promotion whereby household items like sofas and TVs could be specified and customized by buyers who had placed a deposit on the modified items. In this way, the daily deals industry is slowly merging with more conventional e-commerce models, as well as evolving out of the low-profit cut-price deals niche. Alibaba says it plans more promotions like that on its deals platform.

The Juhuasuan site has double the market share of its nearest rival, Meituan, in a highly fragmented market where thousands of smaller deals sites die off every year. The only major consolidation we’ve seen in the industry was when Alibaba’s major rival, Tencent, oversaw the merger of Groupon China with FTuan.

In other news from Alibaba that also involves huge numbers, the company said recently that its two online malls, Taobao and Tmall, generated $159.5 billion in sales in the first 11 months of 2012.

Wesfarmers Unit To Begin Shipping Goods Direct To Customers-Report

Shipping Goods directly from China

Shipping Goods directly from China

Wesfarmers Ltd.’s (WES.AU) discount department store Target will begin shipping goods directly from China to Australian internet shoppers by September, allowing them to avoid paying Australia’s goods and services tax, The Australian newspaper reported Friday.

The newspaper quotes Target Managing Director Dene Rogers saying the company was setting up facilities in China to ship its merchandise to Australian customers. The goods and services tax is exempt from imported products costing less than 1000 Australian dollars (US$989).
China is the new giant with mcdonalds popping up on every corner and if Google can get away with minimizing tax in Australia then why not target- i wish the smaller company’s could be so brazen about flaunting the rules – hey its just an opinion

Chinese Netizens Express Discontent On The Web While The Government Watches Warily

Chinese Net Cafe

Chinese Net Cafe

Last month, a section of sidewalk in downtown Beijing, by all outward appearances sturdy and stable, crumbled below a woman who was absent-mindedly walking by. Within seconds, she was burned by scalding hot water pipes below and couldn’t be saved before emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

Although tragic, in most large countries this story would disappear under the radar, covered in-depth perhaps by local TV stations but not by national media — a one-day attention grabber at most.

But in China, it became an unofficial cause celebre, drawing rapt interest on Internet forums and micro-blogging services. In response to the accident, a flood of messages appeared on popular Chinese Web-portal NetEase’s forums. Many offered condolences, but a significant number strayed into broader social commentary.

Typing on a cell phone in Guangdong province, more than 1,300 miles away from Beijing, one person left a macabre online note addressed to the dead woman: “Hopefully in your next life you will be born in another country.”

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From Jinan in Shangdong province, about 260 miles away from the capital, another commenter said that “inChina, food isn’t safe, housing isn’t safe, even walking down the street isn’t safe.”

And a person from relatively well-heeled Jiangsu, which now has the highest per capita GDP of any province in the country, left a particularly melancholic note: “In a dark empire, simply walking down the street might result in you falling [into a hole] and losing your life.”

As the rumbling back and forth of these active Chinese netizens show, a relatively minor incident can quickly go from being an anodyne anecdote about poor workmanship on Beijing streets to an excuse for expressing undercurrents of anger and disappointment in day-to-day life.

More than anything, this episode reveals how China’s fast-growing Internet community is finding new ways to get around speech restrictions and expanding the boundaries of political and social commentary in the virtual world, even as its members remain hesitant to discuss such sensitive issues out in the open.

New Virtual Frontiers

On the whole, the discontent that many Chinese people feel about their challenging lives has been absent from official discourse. Despite (or perhaps due to) more than a decade of breakneck growth and soaring per capita incomes, the air is filthy and the tap water largely undrinkable in major Chinese cities. Food safety and contaminated products is a persistent concern, while housing prices remain out of reach for the average newlywed couple. And millions of newly minted drivers can’t go very far in their cars, as gridlock is a common sight in China’s densely populated urban areas.

But if Chinese citizens are grumbling about these conditions, you won’t be able to read about it very often in the state media. And, at least in the recent past, you would not find it freely discussed on the Web either. The Chinese government has established complex language algorithms that remove anything on the Internet considered overtly disparaging of the country’s authorities.

Even so, Chinese netizens are becoming harder than ever to handle and manage. For one thing, the sheer number of statements criticizing the government in direct or subtle ways is overwhelming, forcing Communist leaders to limit their censorship aspirations to the more egregious examples of verbal disobedience. This may evolve into a spiraling problem as China has more Internet users than any other nation: 500 million people in a country of 1.3 billion were connected by the end of 2011. More than 60 percent of these Internet users have a micro-blog.

Making the government’s attempts to regulate the Web even more difficult, China’s Internet community is creatively circumventing blocked keywords and restrictions by using language tricks and substituting seemingly innocent characters with different meanings but similar sounds for lewd or forbidden phrases.

An example involves the héxiè (??) or “river crab,” two characters often used on the Internet as a substitute for héxié (??) or “harmony,” providing a creative and effective way to get around censorship on criticizing government policies on social order.

Instead of writing “society is becoming less harmonious” or “you’ve been a victim of censors protecting social harmony” — comments that would almost certainly be caught by government algorithms and deleted — netizens would instead say “your comment has been river crabbed” or “there are less and less river crabs these days.” Concerned that automated and human censors may be catching up with this deceit, some Chinese netizens now use the term shu?ch?n (??) or “aquatic goods” in place of “river crab.”

Another approach employed by netizens is to squat on overseas websites. For example, posting on President Barack Obama’s Google + page, Chinese people ask seemingly obscure but ultimately pointed questions about issues and problems back home.

“Do you like the taste of shoe leather?” says one Chinese commenter, referring to the recent pharmaceutical scandal in which rotten leather scraps were used to create cheap medicinal coatings.

Googe +: Helping President Obama learn Chinese since February 2012. Image cut directly from Google +.

Chinese Internet users are also using social networks to organize like-minded individuals to take on the morally suspect — unfaithful wives and husbands, corrupt politicians, cheating businessmen — and harass them.

The phenomenon is called “human flesh search,” ultimately carried out for the purpose of identifying people that the online community (or a large section of it) view as engaging in unethical behavior and exposing them to public scrutiny.

For example, in late 2010, a young man killed a university student and seriously injured another while driving drunk in the city of Baoding. When he was caught by police, he shouted: “Arrest me if you dare, my father is Li Gang!”

Outraged by the driver’s lack of remorse and his claim of immunity from punishment, netizens revealed that Li Gang was a local deputy police director. The flurry of anger about the incident grew online until mainstream newspapers couldn’t avoid the story. The driver was eventually given a jail sentence of six years and had to pay over $80,000 in fines, money that went to the families of the two victims. But his story is still a favorite on the Web. “My father is Li Gang!” has become a popular catch-phrase among netizens.

Another instance from mid-March 2012 involved the “Two Meetings” of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s national representative bodies. The former is the world’s largest parliament and China’s only legislature, the latter is a large advisory body for the government. The Communist Party dominates both assemblies, with the remainder composed of politically allied groups. Images of delegates in luxurious fur coats and designer briefcases were posted on the Internet and quickly drew widespread ire and condemnation.

“You’re there to represent us in meetings, not to show off your wealth,” said postings on Sina Weibo, a micro-blog similar to Twitter that reaches about one-third of all Chinese Internet users.

Action and Reaction

The Chinese government is watching the netizen explosion with growing concern, wary that the Internet chatter could weaken the nation’s “social harmony.” The majority of Internet discourse in China is not political in nature, though much of it is critical of society at large. However, a portion of it is moving to link social problems to Communist party rule, and in other cases a significant number of people are spreading unsanctioned rumors.

A Chinese net café, hosting some of country’s half-billion Internet citizens. Image from Reuters/Jianan Yu

 

To eliminate what the Chinese government views as the worst of these Internet postings, authorities have repeatedly shuttered websites and erased “unruly” comments on Internet forums. For example, news and postings about sensitive issues, such as the ongoing scandal involving Bo Xilai — the Communist party chief of Chongqing who was fired from his post and whose wife is implicated in the murder of a British national — are screened diligently and cleaned up. Most of the chatter about high-level party political struggles in the Bo Xilai scandal is quickly removed.

Moreover, the government constantly adjusts the “Great Firewall” that blocks many Western media sites, restricting new search terms and even silencing the Internet if need be.

Early this year, authorities asked social media users to register their micro-blogs with their real identities. Users who refused expected to be locked out of participation on their sites. But although the March 16 deadline to sign up has passed, accounts of unverified users are still active and unimpeded. Whether that indicates the government changed its mind about registration or may yet take action against resistant micro-bloggers is unclear.

In the meantime, Chinese netizens deserve credit for creating an alternate reality for expressing their many disparate complaints, concerns and ideas and for using digital innovation to their advantage. Because of them, it is doubtful that the Chinese government will be able to completely turn back the clock to a highly restricted Web again.

China deletes over 210,000 online posts and shuts 42 websites

CHINA has closed 42 websites and deleted more than 210,000 online posts since March in a crackdown on “internet-based rumours”, state media said today.

Chinese InternetThe news, announced by the official Xinhua news agency in a brief report, comes as China is rocked by its biggest political crisis in decades with the purge of a top leader from the Communist Party, Bo Xilai, and the detention of his wife, Gu Kailai, on suspicion of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Mr Heywood, a strategic consultant, was found dead in Chongqing last November.

Australian Brands Branch-out to Chinese Social Media

Australian brands are seeking to establish a big presence on Chinese social media platforms according to Andrew Collins, director of online communications agency, Mailman. The Shanghai-headquartered company has recently opened an office in Melbourne due to an increasing demand among Australian brands looking to engage Chinese customers in Australia – and in China.

Mailman’s international clients include Citibank, American Airlines and Liverpool FC, with a growing Australian client base in the AFL and Victorian Government.

Commenting on the rise in Chinese social media campaigns, Andrew Collins said: “Australian brands are seeing the business benefits of engaging with customers on Facebook and Twitter and are now recognising the opportunity to do the same with their Chinese-speaking customer base on Q-zone and Weibo.

“With 235 million people on Chinese social media platforms, they are growing at a rate that surpasses many of their western equivalents – and in terms of scale they are among the most significant platforms in the world. More importantly, Chinese social media users interact and engage with brands much more than the users of Facebook or Twitter do,” Collins continued.

Recent statistics* state that almost 80 per cent of Chinese internet users believe a social media presence makes a brand more attractive and 81 per cent of Chinese youth check online comments before making a purchase decision.

“Most of the enquiries we get from Australia are from brand managers and digital marketers seeking advice on how to target the Chinese market. The first question is usually about which platforms they should use.

“The platforms are different and the language is different, but the rules of engagement are predominantly the same as what they’re used to with Facebook and Twitter,” said Collins.

Statistical snap-shot of Chinese social media:

There are currently 235 million social media users in China (a year on year growth of 33%):

  • Half are in their 20s
  • 34 per cent log in every single day
  • 27 per cent have created a profile on 5 or more sites
  • 87 per cent have ‘friended’ or follow brands
  • The number of registered users on QQ, the number one Chinese instant messenger site is 636 million – roughly as many as the world wide audience of Facebook
  • 481 million are registered on Q-zone (social network)
  • 70 million are registered on renren (social network)
  • 200+ million are registered on Sina Weibo (micro blog)
  • Facebook and Twitter do not exist in China

Andrew Collins said the biggest growth area is among brands that are targeting tourists or students from China: “The combined effect of a large Chinese population in Australia and the huge Chinese tourism and student market means Aussie brands can’t really ignore the opportunity to market to a high-volume and highly-engaged online audience,” Collins concluded.

According to ABS data, there are approximately 670,000 people of Chinese birth or descent living in Australia, in addition, Tourism Australia states the Chinese market was worth $3.26 billion in total expenditure in 2010 with the potential to grow to between $7.4 billion and $9 billion by 2020.