China's Silicon Delta will lead digital revolution, says HSBC

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 16 Aug 2017

GUANGDONG: The next game-changing idea in global technology will likely come from a cluster of cities in the Guangdong province, says Montgomery Ho, chief executive of HSBC Guangdong.

Dubbed the "Silicon Delta", this is where many of the country’s most innovative companies are based.

"It’s really just a matter of time. The combination of entrepreneurialism, creativity, market structure,communications infrastructure and sheer scale found in mainland China’s technology sector should soon make the country’s leadership a reality," he says.

According to HSBC’s recent Trust in Technology survey, 100% of respondents in mainland China own a smartphone, 82% of them have used finance programmes over social media and 43% own a smart speaker device. 

In April, Shenzhen-based Internet firm Tencent became the world's 10th-largest listed company, followed by Alibaba in 11th place.

While apps used in the Western world cater for different needs, China's Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as "BAT", build in universal experiences on single platforms. For example, WeChat offers social media, payments, dating, news and messaging among other things.

"WeChat's Western counterparts give their users relatively limited experiences on a single platform," says Ho.

China's BAT and other technology companies are also at the forefront of research into artifical intelligence which is predicted to have as much impact on our lives as the invention of electricity.

According to HSBC's survey, 90% of the respondents in China believe technology makes their life easier and 89% agree that advances in technology will make the world a better place.

The survey shows people in China and India are the most enthusiastic adopters of fingerprint technology at 40% and 31% respectively, far outpacing 9% of people in France and Germany and 14% in Canada.

In terms of physical infrastructure, China is far ahead of those of some developed economies. 

"Villages in the most rural provinces enjoy 4G connectivity and faster internet speeds than many European capitals. This has greatly enhanced the experience of online shoppers, whose purchases are brought to their doorsteps by efficient delivery companies along a modern network of highways," says Ho.

But the most important factor, according to Ho, is the 1.38 billion consumers in China, which will allow Internet and technology companies to scale up rapidly.

"This is exactly what is happening in the Pearl River Delta. Inspired by Silicon Valley, Shenzhen has become a nexus of venture capitalists, accelerators and tech giant alumni, ready to build the next successful startup.

"All these factors have created a “perfect storm” of innovation that is upending commonly held perceptions. As Chinese internet companies expand globally, whether through acquisitions (such as Chinese travel giant Ctrip buying Skyscanner) or organically (Alibaba’s Alipay building a global network of merchants), it appears that the next generation of global internet behemoths will be Made in China," says Ho.

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