Venture capital is changing and evolving rapidly in China, as is mobile technology — a field that my venture capital firm heavily invests in. As a female venture capitalist, I am proud and lucky to live and work in China, a country that is leading the world when it comes to gender equality and empowerment in my sector. In China, women launch more than 50% of all new internet companies and more and more women are working in China’s technology industry.
During my time working at N5Capital, a venture capital firm focused on early stage mobile technology companies, I have lived and breathed the world of mobile technology. I’ve been able to explore which trends are worth investing in, which are rapidly growing, and how this new technological landscape is changing our daily lives. In recent years, China’s high tech sector has boomed. In fact, China has surpassed Japan as the leading exporter of high tech goods from Asia. This success has no signs of slowing and, given the incredibly high number of mobile internet users in China, it is likely that mobile technology will continue to advance and disrupt modern industries.
Below, I’ll cover the main ways in which mobile technology is changing in China, and in turn, how it is changing our lives. We use mobile technology for everything from social networking to ordering dinner, and up-and-coming technological evolutions continue to take the world by storm.
China has a “mobile-first” attitude towards technology
China’s attitude towards the internet has changed over the years, and consumers now have more of a mobile-first attitude towards technology. This has impacted the way companies do business, as many organizations are choosing to bypass the traditional website and aim directly at mobile.
As an example, we can look to last year’s Singles Day shopping festival (the world’s biggest shopping event), when an incredible 82% of customers shopped on their mobile phones. This lies in stark contrast to America, where 36% of Americans made purchases on their mobile phones on the last Black Friday.
Mobile payments are changing the way we shop
In China, mobile technology has changed the way the average person pays for their everyday goods and services. In 2015, mobile transactions in China reached a staggering $235 billion in transactions. Increasingly, people are living without wallets, cash, or cards. As long as you have your mobile phone at hand, you’re never stuck. Two major players when it comes to mobile payments in China are WeChat and Alipay, with Alipay having 73% of the market and WeChat boasting 800 million users.
Not only is mobile commerce easy and intuitive for the user; it’s also great news for the retail industry. Payments can be made on the fly, at the touch of a button, meaning impulse buys are all the more common.
eCommerce has integrated with social media
Not only is mobile technology shaking up the world of eCommerce; it is also combining the worlds of eCommerce and social media. WeChat and its 800 active users can not only pay, but also chat, using its platform. Such a shift has earned the new term “social commerce” — an evolution that marries commerce, customer engagement, customer relationship management, and more. Using WeChat, brands are able to socialize with their consumers and, ultimately, close sales.
Though eCommerce and social media aren’t yet integrated in the same respect in America, Facebook is catching up to this trend. In 2016, it was announced that the social media platform would soon introduce new tools that would enable users to purchase through the site and through Messenger.
Mobile technology is marrying eCommerce and entertainment
Mobile technology in China is marrying eCommerce and entertainment to create a new form of eCommerce known as “entertainmerce”. An example of such entertainmerce can be seen from 2016’s Singles Day shopping festival, when Alibaba live-streamed an eight-hour fashion show. As this show was in real time, it allowed customers to enjoy the entertainment, but it also meant they could buy the latest designer clothes instantly, before the show even concluded.
Now, the practice has become mainstream, and there are more than 300 livestream platforms in China, with roughly 300 million users. These shows are often hosted by notable bloggers and internet celebrities. In fact, in 2016, L’Oréal used a livestream on the video sharing app MeiPai to announce that Angelababy (a popular Chinese model and actress) was Maybelline’s newest ambassador. Within two hours, the livestream had sold 10,000 lipstick products.
Given all these advances in mobile technology, and witnessing how it is changing our daily lives, it’s a truly exciting time to work in this field. Our firm is able to meet with, and invest in, early stage businesses that are primed to disrupt traditional business and facilitate our lives in a multitude of ways. In my experience, the secret to success in venture capital, as with many fields, is that of lifelong learning. To forge ahead, we need to keep up with industry trends, which can change really quickly and dramatically. This requires a lot of passion for the industry of entrepreneurship, and an ability to embrace new challenges in order to find excellent startups and to create long-term relationships with frontier industry insiders.
…the secret to success in venture capital, as with many fields, is that of lifelong learning.