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CONFERENCE REPORT


years, it would just be like visiting a museum, wouldn’t it? China starts at a very young age because that’s how you change behaviour.” There are two systems for payments in China, one is Alipay from Alibaba, and there is also WeChat Pay or WePay from Tencent, the social media of China, and Pascal says that makes up “94% of all of payment systems in China.” He goes on: “Even in the most remote places in China, you can pay with those two systems. China has become a cashless society – or very soon will be. Now, this creates problems for people who rely on cash, we’ve heard about it – think about the beggars. This is no cartoon. This is for real. These people are actually having to use QR codes to survive. How are they going to get a smart phone? How are they going to get a bank account? This is changing society, and it’s actually becoming challenging. “Talking about poverty, I think this is a very important topic, because in 1990 about 750 million people lived below the poverty line. That’s less than a dollar a day. Today, it’s


about 39 million people. China has taken 700 million people out of poverty in the past 25 years or so. And you don’t always think about it, but what it means is somehow every single Chinese person has become somehow richer, and has a better life.” Pascal says there are two things that the Chinese thank for this change: “One is technology – the internet, ecommerce, social media – all of these things, and the other is the government,” he says. “We see the government as being very controlling in the west, I’m not debating it’s not, but the reality for Chinese is it has created some liberation compared to their past. And this is why things go so fast and why the Chinese adopt it so quickly.”


Eyes wide open DIYWK-23MAR18-RDT_Layout 1 20/03/2018 10:16 Page 1


“In 2008, the Olympic Games in China woke up to the world and the world saw China with different eyes for the very first time,” says Pascal. “What happened that year is that three licenses of telecom were made available, and so suddenly every Chinese person started buying


iPhones, and later on smart phones that were all Chinese brands. This year about 98% of Chinese people use the internet through their mobile phone.”


suggests.


“This is actually very bad,” he “In


the way that the


Chinese are so addicted - way more than we are. Chinese are addicted to their phone like no other place on the planet, even when they’re asleep they’re still on their phone. Think about it, go to any place in China, you see more people than the elevator allows, you go to the subway and you see all the people crammed on there. Go to Ikea on a Saturday, I guarantee you, you’ll have more people than products. It’s normal! When there’s a lot of people around us, and we don’t know them, we all watch our phone, it’s very natural behaviour.


“But China would not be China if they could not solve these problems. So the country built a digital path towards the future. And from now on, China is leading the world when it comes to digital. And we’re taking notice now. But, this has happened over


something that just happened since last year. A notable example of this is Singles


the last 10 years, it’s not


Day, is the biggest ecommerce day in China. “This is really amazing,” Pascal remarks. “Alibaba that day made 31 billion US dollars in 24 hours and 90% of the sales were made through mobile phones. This is a totally different world – it means people are remote and are constantly moving. Now, the more impressive thing is actually the delivery. In China it’s about 600 million packages that have to be shipped, and Alibaba was able to ship that in just one month. This is incredible!” “Now, I’m from Belgium, and in Belgium we have the Belgium Post – we’re very proud of it,” he laughs. “We do about 100-200 thousand packages a day. So, I’ve calculated it…if the Belgium Post had to ship [600 million packages] the last person would have gotten this package after exactly seven years. I hope they don’t buy a calendar or something!” he jokes. “But this is the reality. China is just so efficient when it comes to offline, and that really is what innovation is all about.”


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