Sometimes no cash allowed in the new payments world (II)

Published on 2016-12-05

Seamless connections

Ego Pharmaceuticals managing director Alan Oppenheim also found enormous online demand caused him to fast-track China plans for Australia's largest locally owned pharmaceutical company. He says sales of a product in China are often an order of magnitude larger than Ego could achieve at Woolworths and Coles.

Social media in China is also supercharged in both its functionality and popularity. David Liao's lesson in the importance of AliPay and WeChat Pay demonstrates a functionality for social platforms such as WeChat well beyond what most Australians experience with the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

High social media engagement from consumers means companies are very rarely wanting for feedback, which is seamlessly connected with such payment systems. Freedom Food's Macleod warns companies must pay close attention to the feedback, which differs tremendously in volume and timeliness compared to Australia, where he says "we're lucky if we hear anything if someone gets sick".

Oppenheim marvels at the sheer scale of promotional opportunities in social media. He recalls the visit of a promotional company touring the Ego facilities, where young staff with smartphones live-streamed and interacted with an audience that totalled a colossal 10.4 million views, with 176,000 comments.

Yet China's embrace of technology offers opportunities well beyond consumer products. Chuyang Liu from the Australian Trade Commission sees potential in e-health, citing Australia's own advances in telehealth to remote areas as an area to exploit in China. A new "internet hospital" in Fujian launched in late August, allows patients to be examined without having to attend a bricks-and-mortar hospital thanks to connections with 1900 hospitals across China, including 7000 clinicians. 110 million citizens have already signed up for the program, including remote communities that may have just one laptop. Such enormous numbers remind Australian companies that the takeup of technology by the Chinese consumer is as exciting as it may be intimidating.