President Dilma Rousseff is not known for her fondness of foreign policy. But last year, the US gave her the inspiration she needed to embark on an international crusade when it was revealed that Washington was spying on her phone calls. Furious at this affront, the Brazilian leader called on the United Nations annual general assembly to push for better governance of the internet.

Next week, her ambition of creating an international civil code governing the use of the web will come a step closer to fruition as the world meets in São Paulo to discuss the issue at NETmundial – the “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance”. Continue reading »

China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) has started with an interesting focus on online funds.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, and two other central bank officials were cornered by Chinese journalists on the second day of the NPC after some delegates from the financial sector urged stricter supervision of the online funds. Continue reading »

China’s traditional banking sector is leading a counter-attack against the runaway success of online funds launched by internet companies such as Alibaba.

The China Banking Association, with 362 member banks, says deposits made in the funds should not be regulated in the same way as deposits by financial institutions, as at present, but as regular deposits, Chinese media have reportedContinue reading »

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. Continue reading »

By Chris Webster of eBay

Parul Arora always knew her mother had immaculate taste in jewellery – taste so good it appealed to both her younger friends and an older generation at the same time. Together with her mother, she decided to go into business and started selling locally-sourced, handmade jewellery on eBay from their home in New Delhi.

In doing so, Parul tapped into what is evolving to be one of the most virile online marketplaces in the world. The Indian retail environment is going from strength to strength, and not just for local businesses – this is a two-way virtual high street. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

…soon to be 36th?

Why invest in Russian web companies? Look at the country’s web usage figures, and there are plenty of reasons to be downbeat.

At the most recent international tally in 2012, 47 per cent of Russians had no access to the internet. Internet penetration as a share of the population was the 37th highest in Europe. Bosnia and Herzegovina was more connected than the Russian behemoth. Continue reading »

By Egor Yakovlev of Tvigle Media

The Russian internet’s reputation as a pirate haven is well known and largely deserved. Some simple numbers offer a stark illustration of the scale of the problem. Nearly 6,000 Russian-language websites with illegal content were identified in 2012 (a 58 per cent increase year-on-year) by ICM, a Russian-Ukrainian specialist consultancy; in the video segment, pirated content last year accounted for more than 5bn views a month inside Russia alone. Continue reading »

That'll cost you

A brief reminder from ITU, the UN’s telecoms agency, that for all the talk about the global internet, and how emerging economies are getting online, there is still a huge gap between the developed and developing world when it comes to internet usage.

There are still 4.4bn people not online, according to the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society report. And despite the efforts to get people connected, there are still two huge obstacles. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

Russel can make you look very popular: for as little as $15 he can give your fan page on Facebook 1,000 unique ‘likes’ in three or four hours. Russel is a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who featured in an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme into the fraudulent side of internet marketing. What it found was that Russel’s employees were part of a huge ‘cyber reserve army’ at work fraudulently assisting brands to appear popular online.

The ‘fake like’ industry appears to be thriving just as Bangladesh struggles to establish its own orthodox IT sector in the shadow of its giant neighbour, India. Continue reading »

Anyone who has surfed the web in places like Marrakech or Jakarta knows that internet speed in many developing countries leaves much to be desired.

But a report published this week by internet company Akamai shows that a good number of those countries are catching up. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

South Korea’s new president has put technological innovation at the heart of her drive for a “creative economy”, and she is picking the brains of some of Silicon Valley’s leading names for inspiration.

On Tuesday it was the turn of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to visit Park Geun-hye at her official residence, after visits in April by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Google’s Larry Page.

 Continue reading »

Small can be beautiful. Just ask Yang Donghao, chief financial officer of Vipshop, a US-listed Chinese online discount retailer.

In a country where e-commerce is dominated by Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace (through which small merchants can hawk their wares directly to buyers), Vipshop has found success by tapping into the hunger among those living in China’s smaller cities for branded fashion. Continue reading »