Social network payments now reach nearly US$3 trillion in China

Payments on messaging and e-commerce platforms set to increase China’s GD by $236 billion by 2025, unlocking new economic opportunities for people and small businesses

A new UN study reveals that Alipay and WeChat Pay enabled US$2.9 trillion in Chinese digital payments in 2016, representing a 20-fold increase in the past four years. The data shows that digital payments, using existing platforms and networks, provide access to a wider range of digital financial services, expanding financial inclusion and economic opportunity throughout China and neighbouring countries.

The new report by the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance, Social Networks, E-Commerce Platforms and the Growth of Digital Payment Ecosystems in China – What It Means for Other Countries, contains key lessons to help other countries include more people in the economy by transitioning from cash to digital payments. This shift could increase GDP across developing economies by 6% by 2025, adding US$3.7 trillion and 95 million jobs, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.

“Social networks and e-commerce platforms are growing in every economy, whether large or small,” says Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director at the Better Than Cash Alliance. “In China, digital payments are thriving from these channels, bringing millions of people into the economy. This matters because we know that when people – especially women – gain access to financial services, they are able to save, build assets, weather financial shocks, and have a better chance to improve their lives.”

“Widening access to financial services has always been at the heart of Ant Financial’s mission and we are proud to
have empowered more people to save, invest and gain access to capital. There is a quiet revolution underway and we know, firsthand, that our services are making a real difference to hundreds of millions of consumers. But, as this groundbreaking UN report highlights, this revolution is only just beginning. We see tremendous potential
to bring many more people into the financial system, in China and markets around the world,” says Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial Services Group, which operates Alipay.

Key findings from the report:

· More people have opportunities to save and invest. Platforms such as Alibaba’s Yu’e bao make investing money into diverse sets of financial products more accessible for low-income populations. These products allows them to invest the money left on digital accounts, leading incrementally to long-term savings. From 2013 to 2016, Yu’e bao has grown to manage US$117 billion and is now serving over 152 million customers.

· Digital finance helps dramatically increase access to capital for small merchants. As of September 2016, a total of RMB 740 billion (US$107.3 billion) had been lent on the Alipay platform to over 4.11 million small and micro enterprises and entrepreneurs.

· Big data generated through these platforms helps to build credit-scoring history and boost access to credit, particularly for low-income financially-excluded populations. For example, Sesame Credit offers an alternative creditworthiness assessment by examining the credit history, financial behaviour, contractual capacity, identity, and social networks of users.

The study also found both Alipay and WeChat are expanding beyond China and investing in major fintech and payments providers. They are joined by other major communication platforms, utilising existing social networks and e-commerce platforms to drive digital payments and financial inclusion. The report found opportunities especially strong in countries with a high smartphone uptake and collaboration between the private and public sectors:

· In South Africa, 78% of all internet traffic takes place over mobile channels – one of the highest rates in the world. However, despite the continued growth of adoption rates, only 15% of South Africans reported making a purchase on a mobile phone in the preceding month when surveyed in 2016.

· In India, both Ant Financial and Tencent have bought into the Indian mobile payments market, which is enjoying rapid growth under new regulation. Ant Financial and Alibaba have invested up to $900 million in PayTM, as well as sharing staff and technical expertise. The result: PayTM has grown from 5 million to around 200 million users in just the last few years.

· Indonesia was the fastest-growing m-commerce market in the world in 2016, expanding 155% from January 2016 to January 2017. Some of this growth may be due to the release in 2015 of BBM Pay’s Instant Mobile Payments. The popular BBM chat app has over 55 million users in Indonesia and continues to develop.

· In South America, markets have the infrastructure necessary to build payment ecosystems similar to those seen in China. Fifty-nine percent of the South American population uses social media, and 52% connect with social media over their mobile phone. Yet the digital payments space remains fractured, and no payments provider has linked their service to these platforms in a significant way, or vice versa.

-Press Release issued by: United Nations Capital Development Fund

SA ranked among top countries for FDI and remains an attractive investment destination

Johannesburg, Friday 21 April 2017 – Brand South Africa welcomes South Africa’s performance in the 2017 A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index, as well as in the Africa Investment Index 2016 by Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.

South Africa has made a comeback in the 2017 A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index, and has been ranked as the fourth most attractive investment destination in Africa according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2016 by Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab published on Wednesday.

The Quantum Global report is constructed from macroeconomic and financial indicators and the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business Indicators, and also averages the country’s macroeconomic and financial indicators rankings on the six different factors. The report advocates that South Africa received the number four ranking on the Index because it scored well on the growth factor of GDP, ease of doing business in the country and significant population.

Reflecting upon South Africa’s significant improvement, Brand South Africa’s CEO Dr Kingsley Makhubela said, “As a nation, we are cognisant of the role of all South Africans in building the country’s reputation and competitiveness and these improvements emphasise that South Africa is a competent and competitive investment destination and that we are indeed open for business. This also reinforces perceptions about South Africans, from a range of other studies, as hardworking and resilient – despite recent challenges relating to credit downgrades.”

The 2017 A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index report said that while overall FDI flows to Africa decreased 5% in 2016 to an estimated $51 billion, South Africa bucked the overall regional trend, with UNCTAD estimating its FDI inflows increased 38% in 2016. South Africa made a comeback in the Index – rounding out the Index in the 25th spot. “This is likely as a result of improving short-term economic prospects and the long-term investment potential in the country’s manufacturing sector,” A.T. Kearney’s report said.

Known as the melting pot of diversity and inspiring new ways that have shaped the nations young democracy, this year – World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in South Africa under the theme ‘Driving economic transformation in Africa through inclusive growth models’ on 03 – 05 May 2017 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Commenting on this Dr Makhubela concluded: “As a global partner, South Africa commits to the stated objectives of this conference, and it is our hope that this platform will create an enabling environment where we can all share insights on how to better improve the current landscape and map out innovative tactics to accelerate inclusive growth while bringing about sustainable development in the future.”

Follow the conversation on #SANationBrand

This article first appeared on the Brand South Africa website.

Africa Chinese Youth Festival

Chinese and African youth entrepreneurs have called for a digital platform to exchange skills, seek funding and procurement.

This was one of the declarations made by the youth at the second Africa-China Youth Festival held in Pretoria between 24 and 26 April.

Closing the three-day festival today, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela said youth entrepreneurs made a call for an online platform to connect young Chinese and African entrepreneurs for skills exchange,
business contact, funding and procurement.

“These young entrepreneurs have recognised the role of technology in bringing people together for business contact. We look forward to hearing the group report back momentarily. Your feedback will form the content and thematic areas of our further cooperation,” he said.

He added that the engagements held during the festival enhanced perspectives in entrepreneurship, education and diplomacy and firm resolutions were taken to enhance cooperation in these sectors.

The first festival was held in China last year.

“The world is looking to Africa and China to finally show the way in dealing with the lack of transformation of global institutions, the uni-polarity of power and the move towards human development rather than hate, polarisation and underdevelopment of one for the continued prosperity of another,” Manamela said.

The festival which attracted youth from the continent and China coincided with the launch of the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM).

Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa said the objective of the PPEM is to open avenues for increased interaction and cooperation between the people of both countries across various sectors, including youth affairs.

“We also had the South Africa-China High-Level Seminar on Thoughts Exchange and Dialogue. The theme “Resonance between the concept of a community of shared future for mankind and the philosophy of Ubuntu in
international relations” enriched all of us regarding some philosophical underpinnings that inform and shape our interactions in international relations,” she said.

The South Africa-China High Level Seminar was attended by ministers and deputy ministers from both countries.


-Image: Twitter

China launches first domestically-made aircraft carrier

Newly-built 50,000-tonne carrier demonstrates the growing technical sophistication of China’s defence industries.

China has launched its first domestically-made aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of the growing technical sophistication of its defence industries.

The 50,000-tonne carrier was towed from its dockyard on Wednesday morning following a ceremony in the northern port city of Dalian.

Development of the new carrier began in 2013 and construction commenced in late 2015. It is expected to be formally commissioned sometime before 2020, after sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.

Reports of the launch said a bottle of champagne was broken across the ship’s bow and other craft in the port sounded their horns in celebration.

Like the 60,000-tonne Liaoning aircraft carrier, which was purchased from the Ukraine, the new carrier is based on the Soviet Kuznetsov class design, with a ski jump-style deck for taking off and a conventional oil-fuelled steam turbine power plant.

The design limits the weight of payloads its planes can carry, its speed and the amount of time it can spend at sea relative to US nuclear-powered carriers.

The main hull of the new carrier has been completed and its power supply put into place. Next up are mooring tests and the debugging of its electronic systems, the defence ministry said.

China is believed to be planning to build at least two – and possibly as many as four – additional carriers, with one of them – the Type 002 – reported to be already under construction at a shipyard outside Shanghai.

They are expected to be closer in size to the US Navy’s nuclear-powered 100,000-tonne Nimitz class ships, with flat flight decks and catapults to allow planes to launch with more bombs and fuel aboard.

China has offered little information about the roles it expects its carriers to play, although its planning appears to be evolving as it gains more experience.

The Liaoning was initially touted mainly as an experimental and training platform, but in December was declared to be combat-ready and has taken part in live-firing exercises in the South China Sea, where tensions have risen over China’s construction of man-made islands complete with airstrips and military structures.


Exim Bank of India announces details of BRICS Economic Research Award 2017

Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank), has announced details for accepting applications for its BRICS Economic Research Award for 2017. This is the second annual research award being conferred by Exim Bank with a view to promote and encourage research which is relevant to the economies of BRICS countries. The applications can be downloaded from the website of Exim Bank ( and the last date for submitting the research paper is May 10, 2017.

Research thesis of nationals, of any of the five member nations of BRICS i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, who have been awarded a Doctorate or who have submitted thesis for a Doctorate from any recognised nationally accredited University or academic institution globally, during the period January 2012 to March 2017, are eligible to participate and receive the Award.

All entries must be received by Exim Bank on or before 10 May 2017. The subject matter of the thesis can be research in international economics, trade, development and related financing. Issues of relevance to BRICS nations/ member development banks of BRICS such as those pertaining (but not limited) to international economics, foreign trade, development and related financing, foreign direct investments, joint ventures, international competitiveness, policies impacting trade and investment, monetary and fiscal interventions would be of interest. Credit would be given for originality, clarity of presentation and relevance to BRICS context. Within the BRICS framework, Exim Bank has taken a leadership role of promoting research on trade related areas concerning the BRICS economies.

The Award comprises a Citation and prize money of 1.5 million (equivalent) (approximately USD 20,000) which is sponsored by Exim Bank. The objective of the Award is to stimulate and encourage advanced (doctoral) research on economics related topics of contemporary relevance to the member nations of BRICS.

Commenting on the reasons for instituting the award, Mr David Rasquinha, Managing Director of Exim Bank said, “BRICS nations account for nearly half of the global population and are emerging as growth centres in the last few years. The economies of these countries stand to benefit from research which assist and accelerate this growth. Besides, the Award will act as a great motivator to undertake original research work in the fields of economics, international trade and allied fields.

The first BRICS Economic Research Award was presented to Dr. Joao Prates Romero in October 2016 during the BRICS Summit held in Goa in India. “The response from research scholars during the last year was very encouraging and we urge more research scholars to take part for this year’s award,” Mr Rasquinha added. Exim Bank is the nominated member development bank under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, along with other nominated member development banks from member nations of BRICS namely Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES), Brazil; State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank), Russia; China Development Bank Corporation (CDB), China, and Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), South Africa.

EXIM Bank is also a signatory to the multilateral cooperation agreement signed among the member development banks of member nations of BRICS. · EXIM Bank promotes India’s international trade and focuses on south-south cooperation. · The Award would serve to encourage scholars to undertake focused research studies on topics of contemporary relevance to BRICS. The Winner of the Award will be announced during the Annual BRICS Summit in September 2017.

-Press release issued by Export-Import Bank of India.

A huge BRICS focus on skill training

Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa will collectively put together a plan aimed at skills-training that will encourage productivity and in turn, lead to a poverty alleviation.

Speaking at the First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday, director of the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Hao Bin said: “China plans to get rid of poverty and build a moderately prosperous society by 2020. Skills training is one of the approaches for meeting the challenging target,” reports China Daily.

“Meanwhile, poverty is also a problem for other BRICS states. We hope we can work with others to draft an initiative or action plan to lift people out of poverty with the help of skills training.”

A meeting between the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers in Chongqing, China is scheduled for July.

The with existence of the $100 billion BRICS Bank and a currency reserve fund, it was only a matter before discussions concerning labour cooperation were needed.

Russia has previously praised the International Labour Organisation bfor being instrumental in setting up the BRICS Labour Ministers forum.

Labour rights issues  is a common concern among the BRICS countries, taking poverty and corruption into account.

According to BRICS Post, “unorganised workers in India constitute 93 per cent of the country’s total workforce with no social security coverage, while China makes almost half of the world’s goods”, despite coming under fire for  ‘overlooking’ some of the worst working conditions for its migrant workers.

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

The BRICS nations make up approximately 43% of the world’s population.

– BRICS Post (TBP and Agencies)

VW will launch electric car in China soon

Volkswagen’s China head, Jochem Heizmann has shared the company’s plans to launch a pure battery electric vehicle in China later this year. This news comes despite ongoing uncertainty about China’s electric car quotas. Heizmann said that because of this uncertainty, they have been forced to bring the launch of electric cars in China closer.

He said: “The rules look like they are being revised,” adding that Chinese authorities have not yet clarified exactly how a system of credits for New Energy Vehicles (NEV)’s will be formalised.

A proposal has been been put forward that forces carmakers to meet their sales targets for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles of 7% in 2020 and 15%t in 2025.




Xi: Dialogue needed to calm region

Li Xiaokun
Displayed with permission from China Daily

President urges US leader to assist in defusing Korean Peninsula situation

The Korean Peninsula issue should be settled through peaceful means, President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, adding that Beijing is willing to continue a dialogue with Washington on the issue.

Xi spoke by telephone with Trump on the issue just days after his meeting with the US president on April 6 and 7 in Florida.

Xi “stressed that China sticks to the target of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and that China is committed to peace and stability of the peninsula,” according to a news release issued by the Foreign Ministry.

“China holds that the issue should be solved through peaceful means and is ready to maintain communication and coordination with the United States on the issue,” the statement said.

The two presidents also talked about the situation in Syria. Xi said any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and that the path of political settlement should be followed.

He expressed the hope that the UN Security Council would speak in one voice, as it is important for the council’s members to remain united over the issue.

Xi said his recent tete-a-tete with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida has produced important results, which have won a positive response from among the Chinese people and the international community.

He and Trump have increased mutual understanding and established sound working relations, he added.

He urged the two sides to promote economic cooperation, expand exchanges in military, law enforcement, technology and communication, enhance communication and coordination regarding major global and regional issues through a newly established four-pronged dialogue mechanism.

Xi also asked teams from China and the US to work together to make sure Trump’s visit to China later this year will achieve fruitful results.

Trump has called the meeting with Xi at Mar-a-Lago a success. He said he was looking forward to his state visit to China this year.

When asked about the reason behind the phone conversation, which came right after Xi’s US trip, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday that the two presidents agreed to keep close communication through all kinds of channels.

“After all, the time of the meetings was limited,” he said.

Lu said Beijing had taken note of remarks made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Washington would consider talking with Pyongyang after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north stops all nuclear and missile tests.

Ruan Zongze, executive deputy president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the situation on the Korean Peninsula issue is “very severe” and became an important topic of the phone conversation between the two leaders.

The US and the Republic of Korea to the south are conducting their biggest-ever military exercises, and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group is heading to the area.

“Once the situation is out of control, it will be a disaster to China and the region. So China has clearly expressed its resolution to keeping stability there, which is Beijing’s bottom line,” Ruan said.

The change of tone is a move forward in the right direction on the issue, Ruan added.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Co-working space forecast to expand massively by 2030

Chen Meiling
Displayed with permission from China Daily

 By 2030, co-working spaces will make up 30 percent of the office market and multinational enterprises will become major users, according to a report released by the US-based real estate services provider Colliers International Group Inc in March.

The emerging number of employees from the post-1980 generation and the increase in multinational corporations using flexible workspace are some of the drivers, the report said.

Jonathan Seliger, CEO of naked Hub, a co-working space operator founded in 2015, said the post-1980 generation tended to seek better designed and aspirational settings.

He said their expectations for a working environment included more transparent organizational structures, increased social interaction and nontraditional relaxation spaces and amenities.

Co-working spaces-which can be equipped with lounges and breakaway areas, recreational activities, coffee and even beer-create a more comfortable, collaborative, creative and less hierarchical environment for a company, he added.

Tor Petersen, managing director of sales in China of camera manufacturer GoPro, said he and his team work at the naked Hub in Shanghai.

“Our team loves the ability to work in our secure space, lounge or hot desk area,” he said.

“It’s the ability to change environments that gives you energy in your day.”

GoPro has about 10 people in the hub and expects to add 10 more in the next year, he said.

According to Colliers’ report, 47 percent of the Asian workforce is the post-1980 generation.

Tu Jian paid 2,200 yuan ($319.5) for each desk per month to rent an office for his startup, equipped with Wi-Fi, printing machines, open lounges and living rooms in Wework co-working space in Shanghai.

He said his monthly outlay by desk were significantly below conventional office costs. Also, his startup teams could book Wework spaces anywhere in the world, which was very convenient to meet overseas investors or customers.

“We even recruited administrative staff through the membership network,” Tu said.

Major co-working space operator Wework, founded in 2010, has to date set up about 100 stores in 12 countries with a total area of 900,000 square meters. Its members include startups and Fortune Global 500 companies, including General Electric, IBM and Microsoft.

Wework founder and CEO Adam Neumann said co-working spaces provided more of a community than a workspace.

“We provide weekly training classes, brand promotions, a financial consultancy and other services for our 90,000 members worldwide,” he said.

“We can also help companies who want to expand business in foreign countries.”

The Colliers’ report said the co-working space operators had in recent years begun to expand their business from startups to multinational companies, which had increased the volumes of transactions. In 2015, 12 percent of transactions involved 15 desks or more. Now the number had growth to 35 percent, he said.

Compared to a traditional office, flexible workspaces can cut costs an average 25 percent and provide a more dynamic environment to improve staff retention, broaden access to skilled staff and potential business partners, the report found.

HSBC rented 400 desks of Wework’s store in Hong Kong. HSBC manager Andrew Connell said the co-working spaces allowed the bank’s employees to collaborate in an open and agile working environment with innovative teams from other companies, including Hong Kong’s fin techs.

“Creating the right environment is important to us as we continue to attract, develop and invest in the staff we need to meet our digital ambitions,” he said.

More multinational enterprises are expected to deploy their digital, innovative or technical teams into co-working spaces, the report said.

Though China only had a few co-working spaces in 2015, the past two years have seen a rising demand for flexible workspace in developed cities across China, the report said.

The existing co-working spaces in Beijing, which make up 2.3 percent of the total office market, are estimated to grow to 7-10 percent of the total by 2020, and 30 percent by 2030, it said.

The three major operators in Beijing-URwork, Wujie Space and SOHO 3Q-currently cover a total office area of about 140,000 sq m with 19,000 desks.


[PHOTO ESSAY] Visiting Russia

Late last month, South Africans travelling to Russia and vice versa – merely for visits – were happy to learn that as of 1 April 2017, visa requirements for travelling between the two countries were dropped.  Former spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, Mayihlome Tshwete said:

“It means less inconvenience, less administration when you want to travel to Russia,” adding that “the department believes South African travellers don’t pose many risks and should be afforded more convenient travel arrangements”.

Since that is out of the way, we can start planning trips. Russia offers many beautiful contrasts, from balmy subtropical beaches, to icy winters in the north. The country is deeply rooted in its history, also paying homeage to struggles of the past, whether it be through classical musica or literature.

Get your passport stamped and let’s travel!


Beatiful view Neva river in Saint Petersburg, Russia


View Yuriev monastery, Veliky Novgorod, Russia


View of the Church on Blood, the Church of Christ’s Ascension and the Patriarch’s Metochion from the city pond of Yekaterinburg, Russia.