By Kevin Martin, HSBC

China’s consumers are by no means the wealthiest in the world. But they are years ahead of their counterparts in many developed economies in terms of how they shop and pay for what they buy. In this, they are revolutionising the way consumer finance is conducted in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Like so many of the changes sweeping China, the uptake of internet and digital technologies has happened with head-spinning speed.

As recently as 2000, a mere 1.7 per cent of mainland Chinese were online. Now, the country has more than 700m internet users – a penetration rate of more than 50 per cent.  Read more

Speculation is rife that Amazon is soon to establish itself as a global shipping and logistics expert, in a move coined internally as project ‘Dragon Boat’.

While this bold strategy has the potential to significantly increase margins and position Amazon as Chinese businesses’ gateway to the West, a considered and phased implementation is essential if the firm is to gain share of the cross-border e-commerce market from industry leader Alibaba. Read more

All eyes are on China’s Alibaba, the e-commerce behemoth, and its planned US listing – not least from neighbouring India.

Senior management at Snapdeal, the online marketplace backed by eBay, are watching the initial public offering (IPO) closely as they mull a similar listing themselves. Co-founder, Kunal Bahl, told beyondbrics that the company could launch an IPO in 18 to 24 months’ time. Read more

Still depositing your money in the bank? In China, you would be laughed at by your friends, who are either buying wealth management products or rushing into the online currency funds offered by the three internet giants – Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

In response, the “big five” national banks – Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of Communications – have had to raise savers rates to the upper limit set by the central bank in an attempt to keep their depositors’ money. Read more

It’s not yet dinner time, but Single’s Day shopping holiday in China has already broken records for cyber consumption.

Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce retailer with about 80 per cent of the total market, says it took only until 1:04pm today to sell Rmb19.1bn ($3.1bn) worth of goods, equivalent to everything it sold last year – and about twice what was sold last year on Cyber Monday in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

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Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, started its online financial service on Monday in an attempt to compete with rivals such as Alibaba, who have already pushed aggressively into Chinese financial sector. It wasn’t exactly smooth running.

Baidu’s financial services platform made its debut on October 28, introducing a financial product in conjunction with China Asset Management, which was offering an 8 per cent annual return in its original promotional material. However, the ad fell foul of the financial regulator, and the site was overwhelmed with traffic. The missteps show how much of a rush the big internet companies are to get into online finance. Read more

Riiight. As if Beijing was ever really going to let Alibaba – its homegrown answer to Amazon and eBay and a major source of national pride – list anywhere but Hong Kong.

Well, guess what? One month after Alibaba said it had abandoned plans for a $60bn-plus initial public offering in Hong Kong to pursue a US listing, the ecommerce giant appears to be having second thoughts. Read more

It may only be a small deal, but investors couldn’t get enough of it. Forgame, the Chinese online gaming company, soared by a third on its market debut on Thursday, the only new deal this year to see a day-one pop.

At $200m, the IPO is hardly a blockbuster. But it does highlight a key problem – and a big opportunity – for Hong Kong: a lack of good technology stocks. Read more

Now that Alibaba, China’s biggest ecommerce company, has abandoned plans for a $60bn IPO in Hong Kong and is turning instead to the US equities market, a scramble for territory among the Chinese IT triumvirate known as the BAT (for Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) can only intensify. Read more

One head, many voices

Half Pilgrim’s Progress, half Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Wednesday’s wonderfully crackers blog entry from Hong Kong Exchange chief executive Charles Li is sure to up the hit count, and raise a few smiles.

It’s all too easy to get lost in Li’s winding, dreamscape narrative, where imaginary characters (Mr Innovation, Ms Practical, Mr Righteous and others) battle it out to decide whether the stock market operator should bend to the will of a prospective new listing candidate (ie Alibaba). At times it feels like 12 Angry Men, but played out by the colourful inhabitants of Sesame Street or the Mr Men series. And all in the arena of a sleeping Li’s brain. Read more

The battle between China’s internet giants ratcheted up another notch this week after Tencent – the sector leader with a market capitalisation of over $100bn – snapped up a minority stake in Sohu’s Sogou search engine unit for $448m.

The deal, which will give Tencent a 36.5 per cent stake in Sogou, is aimed at expanding the former’s presence in China’s fast growing mobile internet market. The transaction is also the latest shot fired in an ongoing rivalry between Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu for online supremacy in China. Read more

The fierce reaction in China to Jack Ma’s Tiananmen comments shows the real dilemma of doing business in China – politics. But international investors are looking forward to Alibaba’s IPO despite the backlash.

A more than one hour long recording of an interview Ma gave to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post was provided by Alibaba and posted on the Wall Street Journal’s Chinese website this week in an attempt to defend his reputation. Read more

Yahoo might have delivered a set of lacklustre second quarter results, but that didn’t stop the web portal company’s shares from surging more than 10 per cent on Wednesday to close at $29.66 – a five year high.

The reason? In a word: Alibaba. Read more

The most interesting nugget in Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings presentation is arguably not the web portal company’s own performance; but rather that of Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce company in which Yahoo holds a 24 per cent stake.

With Alibaba gearing up for its highly anticipated initial public offering, the eye-popping numbers revealed on Tuesday by Yahoo are a must read for any potential investors. Read more

With Chinese regulators still scratching their heads on how to handle shadow banking, there’s a whole new world of internet finance to comprehend, spearheaded by Alibaba, China’s biggest ecommerce group.

Jack Ma, the group’s chairman, has publicly voiced his ambition to create a revolution in financial industry through the internet, and is putting it into practice with several new services. Read more

Jack Ma is back in action. Less than three weeks after giving up management control at Alibaba, the founder of the Chinese internet giant is back in the headlines with a Rmb100bn-plus logistics infrastructure project called Cainiao Network Technology.

Ma will be the chairman of China Smart Logistic Network (CSN), a consortium which will develop a parcel shipping network that can help deliver online shopping in 2000 cities within 24 hours. Good news for Chinese consumers – and for Chinese internet companies. Read more

The media and netizens alike have been chatting up a storm about the upcoming Alibaba IPO. Even though the offer has not been officially announced, estimates of the company’s potential value once it is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange have literally doubled in the past six months.

Is this a repeat of the frenzy that accompanied Facebook’s IPO, which ended in crashing disappointment when the stock plunged after the sale? Or can Alibaba Group make a better fist of handling the market? Read more

Shares in Sina Corp, the Nasdaq-listed Chinese online media group, rose nearly 21 per cent during trading on Monday after the company said it had agreed to sell 18 per cent of Weibo, its Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to Alibaba Group for $586m. The two came close to a similar deal five months ago. Now they have tied the knot. Read more

You can almost hear the investment bankers salivating.

News on Tuesday that Jack Ma will step down as chief executive officer of Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant that he founded, quickly had analysts and the tech industry buzzing with speculation that Ma is priming the company for an initial public offering.

If true, it would be, in the words of one analyst, “the mother of all IPOs”. Read more

Turbulent times for Sina’s shareprice. The Nasdaq-listed Chinese internet company, which runs the Twitter-like Sina Weibo service, was slapped down more than 15 per cent on Friday, after putting out poor forecasts in its third quarter results.

But what’s this? Alibaba, owner of Chinese internet marketplace Taobao among other web properties, is eyeing up a 15-20 per cent stake in Sina Weibo, according to a Chinese media report. Sina was up on Monday in pre-market trading by as much as 10 per cent. Read more