|William Bao Bean|
The South China Morning Post.
More in the South China Morning Post.Is there any innovation in China, or does a copycat culture still exist?Everyone copies each other, and talking about who copies whom is a waste of time. China is ahead in certain things and behind in others.One of the areas in which it’s ahead is in social commerce. If you look at social media networks like Facebook today, you can go into a community or a group, but you can’t buy anything. But if you go into WeChat, anything that you can see, you can buy. WeChat is maybe 1.5 years ahead of Facebook in terms of social commerce.China’s social networks are innovating far above Facebook and Twitter in social commerce. If you do something before someone else does, that’s innovation in my book.Another industry where China is ahead in innovation is entertainment. The Chinese gaming market is larger than the US market and many more people are spending more money on entertainment on their phones.For example, the freemium model for games [where a product or service is offered free but charges are made for other services] was conceived in Korea and later taken up by China. The freemium model came about because users would play pirated games and no one would pay for games in Asia. So the companies had to innovate and come up with a new model for games, where users can play, but are encouraged to pay for items, or boosts, within the game. This is an innovation that started out in Asia, with the West adopting it later.
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Earlier this year we discussed with William Bao Bean how mobile payments are killing the profits of traditional banks and credit card companies.