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Alipay wechat Pay

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I was travelling in China for 9, 10 days recently, and I can see those two payments method everywhere. From the small food stall to KFC, one of those two methods are widely accepted, and in many cases cash transactions are very rare. I noticed this trend about 1.5 years ago during my China trip too, at that time I saw some promotions around those new payment methods. This time I saw many promotions too, such as discount to points (reward) system.

Just use my own shopping experience as an example. I purposefully did not get a local mobile phone number this time, which in other words, this disqualified me from using those new payment methods. I did not want the hassle of getting a new mobile phone number, with or without data plan, and then have to give up the number later. Because my trip is really a 9 day trip. I noticed in most “free” or public wifi hotspots, the setup is such that they send a validation code to the mobile phone. For me I can live without because my phone has international data roaming, in other words, I still get to wechat on the go. But I cannot get to those free public wifi hotspots, at a bookstore when I tried to sign up to be their member via wechat, I realized my lack of local phone number is preventing me from doing that, or getting the discount. Same thing in KFC. I did noticed some China Unionpay (flash pay, or its own contactless payment methods, like masterpass or visa checkout, if you will) promotion along with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, but it’s very obvious they are not in the same magnitude as Alipay or wechat pay. There is news saying that China central bank is regulating Alipay and wechat pay, such as limit the amount of transaction. It will be interesting to observe though, we know Unionpay is very much state owned, while the other 2 are in theory private owned. But all in all, this is a very difficult market for Mastercard and Visa to crack.

Fully disclosure: as of this writing, yours truly works for Mastercard. And this article is just my personal opinion, not my employer’s.

PS, in order to get a local mobile phone number, one usually needs a local identification card. I am not sure how foreigners can get one, via their passport. I assume there is a legal/legit way to get that.

Last but not least, my friend in Ningbo, used Alipay app to rent a car (I assume it’s similar to Uber), to pick me up at Ningbo railway station. He said he even sold his car recently, due to the convenience of car-rent app, public transportation, and the desire to walk/cycle (again bike sharing here, needs a phone and app) more instead of trying to finding a parking spot for his car (and the cost of maintain a car). When we got off the car, the payment is automatic just like Uber.

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Why Wal-Mart is losing to Amazon

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Just look at this smart watch on Amazon. Can you believe one can get a smartwatch that basically has the functions of a $100+ pebble watch, and sell for $12.80 at Amazon? We know stuff at Wal-Mart are made in China. How about this watch? I bet it’s made in China too, not only that, maybe sold by a Chinese person (or company) too. This is amazing, thinking about the king of global logistics/trade Wal-Mart increasingly lose out to Amazon, for that matter, that person may bought this from Alibaba (Taobao) in China.

LEMFO Bluetooth Smart Watch

On a personal level, I felt I go to Wal-Mart less, because I have other alternatives, Aldi, Targets are good ones. Costco is a more expensive choice. I do sometimes shop at, and pick up at store. The free shipping is nice, but the wait at their counter to pick up things is not. Amazon got rid of that hassle.

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Going east: China iOS app dev companies and potential market

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(Update 05-10-2014) I saw the IPO of China based Cheetah Mobile in the news, not too impressed or confident of their apps though, although I know they make money. Cheetah was a subsidiary of Kingsoft (and King still has a big stake after IPO). I also noticed the WSJ article about China app market. I know a lot has changed since I last wrote about this, which is 3 years ago. From my personal observations, smartphone especially iPhone is saturated.

(Original 05-29-2011) I prepared the following summary for 360 iDev conference this fall at Denver. The talk did not make into the agenda, but I think it may be interesting to some western iOS (mobile) developers. After all, the market has great potentials.

Some background
iPhone officially came to China late 2009, but iPhone 1G came to China shortly after the US launch in Summer 2007. The first Apple store opened in Beijing July 2008. According to Steve Jobs Sept 2010 music event and Apple Q4 2010 earning report, greater China is the fastest growing market. Chinese costumers are snapping up iPod, iPhone, iPad and Macs quickly. How about apps? In this talk, we will discuss the China iOS app development companies (some have their apps featured by Apple), the current status of China iOS apps and the potential of iOS app markets (both consumer and enterprises).


Some notable China based iOS development companies (Its Colorful Aquarium app was featured by Apple).
Rye Studio (featured article on San Jose Mercury News here).

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Top Ten Mistakes Made by Financial Agents and How to Prevent Them

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The following is a guest post created by Ashley B. Mulvey who writes for financial advisor career advice , her interest blog she uses to share her knowledge to assist people cope with the facets of economic advisory.

Financial Advisers can have great careers and be real assets to their communities, but they can fall prey to avoidable faults. Mistakes 1 through 6 cover ethical concerns and 7 through 10 cover business strategy and personal concerns.

1) Making uninformed choices.
In order to prevent mistakes, be sure to double check proper rates and information about the product(s) you are offering.

2) Fraud
In order to stop fraud, go into your consultations with the attitude that you are going to do what is ideal for the customer whether or not you make the sale.

3) Signing an application with fields left blank.
Make sure that the application is fully filled out before signing it.

4) Asking for a check in the adviser’s name.
This should never be done, because premiums or payments from clients belong to the company under which the adviser is employed and should never be intermingled with the adviser’s personal records.

5) Putting unwanted pressure on the client.
Good salespeople can close a sale without using coercion. Always look out for the client’s best interest.

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Xerox: invented mouse and GUI, but jumping into BPO

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Today Xerox announced a $6.4 billion deal to buy BPO (short for busines process outsourcing, basically IT service) company Affiliate Computer Services (NYSE:ACS), refer to this MarketWatch article for more details.

Both companies are not new to me, because I know Xerox (Palo Alto Research Center, Wiki entry, PARC own web site) invented the computer mouse and graphical user interface (GUI) before Microsoft/PC makers, and Apple populized it. But Xerox did not make any money from those two products. They continue to make Xerox machines, and adding some features to those machines.

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Healthcare reform: some good things about US hospitals

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Went to St. John’s Mercy hospital last week, accompanying my wife for the baby ultrasound thing. I am familar with St. John’s because I went there couple times before (once was I hurt myself during roller blade skating, and I had to get two stitches there).

As I said in my previous healthcare reform post, 10 years ago I was amazed by the good conditions of University of Missouri hospital (Columbia) because it’s clean and it’s just not like hospital (my impression of hospital back in China, read Went to Children’s Hospital – Refugee Camp from Wang Jianshuo and you will know. More recently he wrote Hospital is Badly Needed). This time I had similar feeling about St. John’s. Now they got Wifi so theoretically we can work from hospital cafeteria. I even told my wife does they have openings.

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IS blockbuster busted?

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VHS:blockbuster vs. DVD:Netflix

This is the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) analogy I would use for movie rental companies Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) and Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX). The popularity of VHS tape made the success of Blockbuster, as I read from Wiki, the first Blockbuster movie rental store was established in Dallas in 1985 (24 years ago). By similar token, the popularity and technology bring huge success to the “all you can eat” DVD by mail service provider Netflix.

Blockbuster logo

Blockbuster did not stand still. They got rid of the infamous “late fees”, replaced all the good old VHS tapes with much slicker DVDs, even tried the Total Access (combining DVD by mail and at store), but it appears they are still losing a lot customers to Netflix. More recently, the Redbox and Movie Box, those help-yourself (a dollar per rental) kiosk show up in McDonald, Walgreens, grocery stores, and people like it because it’s both cheap and convenient. But they also add salt to the injury of Blockbuster.

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Started Financial Times subscription

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I started Financial Times subscription this week. Last week, I took advantage an offer (or a bait) of $49 for 6 months subscription. I have subscribed and read FT in the past (a few years ago when I did not know much about finance). The main reason is my WSJ and Barrons subscription are expiring, Barrons expires on Aug, WSJ on late Sept. While I enjoyed reading those two newspaper, I found the quality of those two paper are declining fast. Some obvious mistakes include printing same sentence twice (WSJ), paper becomes thinner and thinner (WSJ). As to Barron’s, they more or less get into what I would call “stock picking” business (guess the winners in the stock market, which is OK except they only show what they got right afterwards).

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Sales tax on online shopping coming?

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I read two news this week, which makes me think this is coming. Keep in mind many local governments are upside down in terms of budget and debts, any tax revenue helps. Collecting tax revenue from online merchants in remote places like Seattle (HQ of Amazon) is a convenient choice.

Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) tax lawsuit (source: hotel-online): from my reading, basically the dispute is around the basis of tax, we know Expedia sells hotel room at discounted rates, but the local government (Columbus, GA in this case) think it should be the listed price. I am not lawyer but I lean towards the discounted rate.

Amazon may stop doing affiliate business. Quote WSJ Amazon Threatens Cuts Over State Taxes:

The Wall Street Journal reports that (Nasdaq: AMZN) may stop doing business with some of its marketing affiliates over state taxes.

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