Web gives economy a new boost

[email protected] China Post

Internet-enabled technologies and business models have given China’s economy a new burst of momentum and changed the nature of growth, experts said.

New internet applications could surge from a single digit to up to 22 percent of China’s GDP growth through to 2025, according to consultancy McKinsey & Co.

That reflects the power of a consumer-oriented “new economy” that relies on service industries, technological upgrading and greener lifestyles, according to Chen Yougang, a principal at McKinsey in Hong Kong.

Leading technologies in China, including mobile internet apps, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, have delivered unprecedented efficiencies to governments and businesses, said Wu Qi, deputy chairman of China operations of consultancy Accenture.

For instance, China’s e-commerce players are blurring the lines between physical and virtual stores by leveraging their troves of consumer data to integrate offline stores, merchandise, logistics and payment tools.

These platforms are set to transform the traditional manufacturing sector into an open and digitally linked manufacturing platform, with networks of hardware suppliers, developers, designers and entrepreneurs, said Denis Depoux, Asia deputy president of Roland Berger.

“For instance, factories can deliver manufacturing as a service to small and medium-sized enterprises and even to individual customers,” he said.

These would redefine the “Made in China” label that many used to perceive as synonymous with low cost and low quality, and represent a breakthrough in business know-how, said Xu Jianguo, a professor of the National School of Development at Peking University.

Vijay Shekhar, CEO of Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet provider, agreed. In partnership with Ant Financial Services Group, his firm has adopted a payment and escrow service, and is set to launch banking, online insurance and wealth management services similar to Alipay.

“China is at the forefront of internet applications such as financial technologies. Chinese inventions are better because they are made for people in the ‘mobile-first’ generation. Silicon Valley is learning from China,” he said.