Digital economy

This picture taken on 28 October 2020 shows a customer (right) scanning a QR payment code (centre in green) to pay at a restaurant in Beijing, China. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

China will continue to dominate the e-commerce landscape in 2021

China will continue to flex its e-commerce muscles in 2021, predicts Associate Professor Chu Junhong from the NUS Business School. Expect a strong dose of cross-border e-commerce, live-streaming e-commerce, and more eye-catching short videos that promise great returns on “retailtainment”.
This photo taken early on October 23, 2020 shows Silvia Rivera (in background) attending a live-streaming event from a studio in Shanghai to offer products on an Aliexpress channel in Spain. By some estimates, livestream shopping is a near US$70 billion industry inside China. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

How China is leading in the live-streaming e-commerce world

Live-streaming e-commerce is fast gaining currency in China, not least when tapping on short video and “we-media” platforms. Supporting the “internet celebrities” who promote endless products through this avenue are a support network backed by AI and big data. Technology specialist Yin Ruizhi looks at how this new model is changing the face of retail.
Signage for the digital yuan, also referred to as E-CNY, at a self check-out counter inside a supermarket in Shenzhen, China, on 20 November 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

Token economics: How Singapore can boost synergy with China in building digital economies

Academics Pei Sai Fan, David Lee and Yan Li say that an understanding of other countries’ technological culture and policies is crucial in advancing digital economic cooperation. For instance, in the main, Singapore and China are able to mutually respect the differences in their blockchain and token policies, and focus on the complementarity of their approaches. Together, they can deepen their collaboration on central bank digital currencies and other projects, and lead the way regionally and globally in building digital economies of the future.
The Alibaba Group signage is seen during the company's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival at their headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 11 November 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)

From heroes to pests: What’s happening to China’s internet giants?

With China’s internet giants now moving into the community group-buying market offering groceries at low prices, not everyone’s happy, as livelihoods will be affected and people have learnt a lesson from the huge price they have paid in the growth of these internet giants. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the dark side of the “online vegetable basket” industry.
The Alibaba Group logo is seen during the company's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival at their headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 11 November 2020. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

Alibaba’s expansion into Malaysia: A double-edged sword?

Academic Tham Siew Yean notes that Alibaba’s latest foray into Malaysia will bring a raft of e-commerce opportunities to the country. But there are concerns about its pervasive presence in the country and the possible impact on competition.
Pedestrians walk past a Chinese flag in the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China, on 1 December 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China to clamp down on monopolies and spur domestic demand

The meeting of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party last week in preparation for the annual Central Economic Work Conference gave a clear indication of China’s economic direction: it is going full steam ahead on shaping a dual circulation economy driven predominantly by domestic demand. In seeking to implement demand-side reforms, deep-seated social issues and monopolistic tendencies will be addressed.
Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee. (SPH)

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee: The future of Singapore-China strategic collaboration

Professor Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large and Singapore’s former ambassador to the US, addressed the Lianhe Zaobao Singapore-China Forum on 4 December via Zoom. She said that there is still much that Singapore and China can work together on, such as in tightening the nuts and bolts of the recently signed RCEP, enhancing the ASEAN-China FTA, exchanging views on the CPTPP and WTO reform, and facilitating cooperation in the digital sector.
China's official app for digital yuan is seen on a mobile phone next to 100-yuan banknotes in this illustration picture taken 16 October 2020. (Florence Lo/REUTERS)

Will China's digital currency accelerate the internationalisation of the RMB?

Some are of the opinion that an e-RMB will encourage the internationalisation of the RMB as a major global currency. NUS academic Duan Jin-Chuan argues that whether the RMB is digitalised or not is not the key issue; internationalisation of the RMB really depends on demand for and attractiveness of the RMB as a trading and value storage tool.
A family wearing face masks walks outside a shopping mall in Beijing on 11 October 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

Chinese housewives: The driving force behind China's e-commerce platforms

China has its army of housewives to thank for its early and deep foothold in e-commerce. The theory goes that with more time on their hands and being fiercely price-conscious, these housewives will never fail to take advantage of discounts for online shopping, and even more importantly, spread the word and get others to do the same.