China’s Mobile Payment Revolution Is Going to Africa

Standard Bank advertising We Wallet cropped smaller

With the launch of Apple Pay in mainland China on Feb. 18, Apple has become the first foreign player to secure a place at the table for China’s enormous mobile payment market. The company will be battling for market share with e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Wallet, which dominate China’s mobile payment arena.

Billboard in Cape Town’s CBD

By the end of last year, a staggering 358 million Chinese were using mobile phones to purchase goods and services, according to research from the China Internet Network Information Center. Outside of China, financial institutions are eagerly looking for ways to build entire ecosystems around their users, following the success of digital leaders like Tencent and Alibaba, Beijing-based managing director of Accenture Albert Chan told Bloomberg.

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Could WeChat become the only app that African internet users need?

WeChat

As technology hubs from Silicon Valley to Bangalore work hard at devising digital approaches to finance that could alter the global banking landscape, mobile banking penetration in China has already exceeded 390 million people. And for Chinese-owned Tencent Holdings, the world’s fifth largestInternet company, China’s 1.3 billion-strong market is just the beginning. The tech giant’s best-known social network, WeChat, is fast gaining traction in Africa, and mobile banking is one area in which its influence is spreading.

 

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FOCAC: Beyond the Numbers

December’s Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has been and gone, and the eagerly-awaited list of numbers has been released, digested, and analysed. China’s commitment of US$60 billion in financing for development across Africa is triple the amount pledged at the last summit three years ago, according to several mainstream media reports. Other calculations put this figure at closer to a 50%  increase in financial commitment. And, while it is this magic number that has since hogged the limelight, China’s important second policy toward Africa was released too.

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Reporting FOCAC6 – A Turning Point for Africa-China Engagement

Wits‘ 12 November roundtable, Reporting FOCAC6 – A Turning Point for Africa-China Engagement, provided a variety of journalists, experts, and other attendees with plenty of food for thought on China-Africa relations, both at the diplomatic level and on the ground, with a focus on producing quality journalism around this expansive subject. CCTV Africa‘s short video report of the event forms the first of a series of posts I’ll be adding on the FOCAC summit and its implications for Sino-African relations.

Lessons from Alibaba’s World

Jack-Ma-Alibaba-IPOThe last few years have seen Alibaba, the Chinese tech and e-commerce juggernaut, go from being a shaky, unknown start-up to something of a household name from Detroit to Delhi. At some point along its path to success, the company has also become one of the world’s favourite success stories. It’s a rags-to-riches tale of sorts, and it doesn’t hurt that the lead character in the story, CEO Jack Ma, is widely considered “one of China’s most unlikely tech founders”. After all, everyone loves an underdog.  Continue reading

Alibaba and the elephant in the room

Alibaba peopleAlibaba, Alibaba: it’s a word that’s increasingly on people’s lips. Certainly, it’s a pleasing name: playful to pronounce and universally recognisable, evoking something at once known and foreign.

But, beyond talking about the Chinese e-commerce giant’s IPO (which claimed the title of largest global IPO ever) and how successful the start-up from southern China has been, we hear far less said about why. Continue reading

Flipkart and Tencent – The jewels in Naspers’ crown

Flipkart and Tencent became household names several years ago in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, India and China. But more recently, their staggering growth rates and innovation in the mobile sphere have forced the rest of the world to sit up and pay attention. Some say that their strength in the market is a direct offshoot of their robust parentage – which, similarly, has only become widespread knowledge since the two firms’ growth began gaining a global audience. The South Africa-based media and tech juggernaut, Naspers, is a major shareholder in Flipkart – India’s Amazon – and Tencent, which owns China’s gamified Whatsapp-Facebook hybrid, WeChat. Naspers, which is one of the largest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, recently began garnering plenty of attention of its own when the value of its stocks reached a record high earlier this month, taking its market capitalisation to R709.7 billion ($60.4 billion).  Continue reading