Live-streaming e-commerce is the fastest-growing area of China’s internet, but buyer’s remorse is common



a close up of a motorcycle mirror: The online retail market is one of the few sectors that has not suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Photo: EPA-EFE


The online retail market is one of the few sectors that has not suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Photo: EPA-EFE

Live-streaming to sell products is the fastest-growing internet application in China this year, with 309 million users in June – about a third of the country’s internet population – but nearly half of the shoppers who buy through these channels are unhappy with their purchases, according to a new report.

The report by government-affiliated China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) was based on several sources, including interviews with more than 3,000 users who had watched video content online in the last half a year, surveys of industry experts and other research.

Around 15.7 per cent of users surveyed said they were convinced solely by live-streaming shows or online videos to buy goods and over half of these have spent more than 500 yuan (US$74) on their purchases, according to the report released on Monday.

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Impulse buying among live stream viewers was the highest in the daily necessity and food and beverage categories, the report said, adding that only 51.5 per cent of those that had bought products through online live streams were satisfied with the goods they received.

Live-streamed shopping campaigns have been credited with helping China’s retail sector recover in the past few months as the domestic economy gradually reopens in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. There were over 10 million e-commerce live-streaming sessions in China attracting more than 50 billion views in just the first half of the year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

E-commerce, live-streaming are bright spots in China’s retail scene

But the growing popularity of such campaigns has also

China’s Quiet Experiment Let Millions View Long-Banned Websites

High End Data Cables Feed Into Servers

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

In a quiet experiment of just two weeks, China provided millions of people access to long-forbidden foreign websites like YouTube and Instagram. The trial appears to signal the Communist government is moving toward giving the country’s citizens greater access to the global internet — while still attempting to control who sees what.

The Tuber browser-app, backed by government-linked 360 Security Technology Inc., appeared without fanfare late September and offered for the first time in years a way to view long-banned websites from Facebook Inc. to Google and the New York Times, albeit sanitized versions. Chinese users rejoiced in a newfound ability to directly peruse long-blocked content from a mobile browser without an illegal virtual private network or VPN.

The browser, carried on app stores run by Huawei Technologies Co. among others, suggests Beijing is testing ways to let its 904 million internet users into once-prohibited zones. While Tuber bore the hallmarks of state-style censorship and got pulled without explanation Saturday, it’s Beijing’s most significant experiment in years with greater internet freedoms.

State-sanctioned apps like Tuber offer a possible compromise — a controlled environment in which activity can be tracked and content screened, while allowing academics, corporations and citizens to exchange information. It addresses a complaint among corporations local and foreign that need to access everything from financial data to critical software tools from abroad.

“This latest development with Tuber is interesting because it could be seen as more openness,” said Fergus Ryan, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “But the way that it would actually work would mean that people who use it would be highly surveilled and the information that they are able to access via this platform is filtered by the censorship apparatus.”

Read more: Chinese App Helps Users Bypass

China’s smaller cities spend the most on video games nationally: Report

People visit the stand of Tencent’s mobile game ‘Glory of Kings’ during the 2020 China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference (ChinaJoy) at Shanghai New International Expo Center on July 31, 2020 in Shanghai, China.

Zhou You | VCG via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Video games are booming in China’s smaller cities, with citizens there accounting for more than half of revenue nationally, according to a recent report by Niko Partners.

“76% of gamers in China live in Tier 3-5 cities, accounting for 70% of game revenue,” Niko Partners said in a synopsis of its China Gamers Report.

Cities in China are classified by tiers based loosely on population and economic size. For example, places such as capital Beijing and Shenzhen are generally considered tier-one cities, while lower-tier cities are smaller.

The country is the world’s top game market and will generate an estimated $40.85 billion in revenue this year, according to Newzoo.

“What we think is happening with the smaller tiers is … there are more and more gamers adapting to uses of mobile devices,” Lisa Cosmas Hanson, founder and president of Niko Partners, told CNBC in a follow-up interview.

With “fewer things to do for entertainment” in smaller cities as compared with their cosmopolitan peers in Beijing and Shanghai, “gamers spend their time with little cost entertainment which can be social.”

This could also be attributable to improved mobile data and broadband infrastructure, Hanson added, with “lots of Android smartphones available at lower price points.”

In a country of 1.4 billion people, even China’s smallest “cities” can have a population of more than 1 million each.

For video game publishers looking at China, the analyst said: “If you really want to draw the attention of people throughout the country, Tier 4, Tier 5, these places can’t be ignored.”

Different

App Removed After Helping Users Bypass China’s Great Firewall

(Bloomberg) — An app backed by Chinese cybersecurity giant 360 Security Technology Inc. that helped users vault over Beijing’s Great Firewall was blocked and removed from mobile stores Saturday.



a close up of a light: Green lights illuminate cable terminals on the Sberbank and SberCloud Christofari supercomputer during an event to mark its launch into commercial operation inside the Sberbank PJSC data processing center (DPC) at the Skolkovo Innovation Center in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. As Sberbank expands its technology offerings, the Kremlin is backing legislation aimed at keeping the country's largest internet companies under local control by limiting foreign ownership.


© Bloomberg
Green lights illuminate cable terminals on the Sberbank and SberCloud Christofari supercomputer during an event to mark its launch into commercial operation inside the Sberbank PJSC data processing center (DPC) at the Skolkovo Innovation Center in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. As Sberbank expands its technology offerings, the Kremlin is backing legislation aimed at keeping the country’s largest internet companies under local control by limiting foreign ownership.

The Tuber browser, which let mainland users visit blocked sites from Google to Facebook Inc., stopped functioning Saturday afternoon and could no longer be located on the app store run by Huawei Technologies Co. It was unclear which agency ordered its removal, which came after Chinese users on social media hailed their newfound ability to peruse content from Youtube videos to Instagram photos without an illegal virtual private network, or VPN.

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Tuber’s removal may have ended what many Chinese users saw as a state-sanctioned window to the wider internet arena. Beijing maintains rigid control over its internet sphere, requiring companies from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to TikTok-owner ByteDance Ltd. to censor and scrub content critical of the government or its policies.

Tuber initially appeared to provide the nation’s 904 million online users the ability to legally visit overseas websites and browse foreign social media, much of which is barred. It required mobile number registration, giving developers the ability to track activity because all smartphone numbers in the country are linked to unique Chinese identification.

A public relations employee at 360 Security declined to provide immediate comment. The Cyberspace Administration of China, which regulates the internet, didn’t respond to calls

U.S. should try to delay IPO of China’s Ant Group, Senator Rubio says

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Marco Rubio, who has successfully urged the Trump administration to pursue investigations of Chinese companies, called on Friday for the U.S. government to consider options to delay an initial public offering of China’s Ant Group, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

“It’s outrageous that Wall Street is rewarding the Chinese Communist Party’s blatant crackdown on Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy by orchestrating Ant Group’s IPO on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges,” Rubio, a Republican, said in a statement to Reuters.

“The Administration should take a serious look at the options available to delay Ant Group’s IPO,” he added.

The Hong Kong leg of the IPO, part of a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, is being sponsored by China International Capital Corp, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley. Credit Suisse is working as a joint global coordinator. Goldman Sachs is also involved.

Ant declined to comment on Rubio’s remarks, but said its business was primarily in China and it is excited about growth prospects there.

It was not immediately clear how the U.S. government could postpone the listing of a Chinese company abroad. But Rubio’s remarks are a sign of growing pressure among China hardliners in Congress, within the administration and elsewhere, for President Donald Trump to sanction Ant before it lists later this month.

Some fear the offering, worth up to $30 billion, could expose scores of U.S. investors to fraud. Others fear it could give the Chinese government access to sensitive banking data belonging to U.S. citizens.

“These digital payment systems are the source of well-founded national security concerns, and the Trump administration should move to protect American users’ sensitive financial data as quickly as possible,” Republican Representative Jim Banks said in a statement when asked whether