Embracing Internet economy [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March marks the beginning of spring; and this year it applies to both the season and the flourishing Internet economy, as Internet financing appeared for the first time in the national Government Work Report, and Yu'ebao, an emerging on-line financial product, has seen its accumulated funds rise to 540 billion yuan ($87 billion) within months.
The era of the Internet economy has come, and it poses both opportunities and challenges, says a People's Daily column that urges entrepreneurs and ordinary people not to fall behind as the new financial wave gathers pace.
While the latest figures show a mild slowdown of the economy, the Internet sector remains buoyant. The retail sales of consumer goods experienced a year-on-year growth of 13.6 percent in December 2013. However, retail sales via the Internet grew by 42.8 percent in 2013.
Online retailers have created 9.6 million jobs in all. Mobile consumption is especially popular - by the end of March, the number of mobile Internet users approached 500 million while the number of mobile payments everyday doubled within three months and reached 25 million.
The emerging Internet economy best symbolizes the spirit of openness, equality and innovation. It is not only breaking the old monopolies that rely on closed information, it is also renewing the mode in which we do business and revolutionizing the concept of "business" itself.
From chain hotels to retail stores, from newspapers to manufacturing factories, it is increasingly common for managers to say, "the Internet is changing everything". But together with opportunities, the Internet economy also poses grave challenges to traditional industries.
Yet no one should dream of resisting the new trend with their power or influence in hand; when several State-owned banks joined hands in tightening their limits on Internet fast payments as a response to the rise of Yu'ebao, the public showed almost unanimous support for the Internet finance instrument.
The wise choice for the banks is to learn to co-exist with their emerging online competitors, while that for the government is to push financial reform further to suit the new conditions.
This year is the 20th anniversary of China being connected to the Internet. The Internet economy has a promising future and it is time to embrace it, not fall behind.
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