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China gets to grips with the digital age

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-30 08:13

China gets to grips with the digital age

An advertisement for Agricultural Bank of China's My Way Mastercard in Shanghai.[Photo/Agencies]

Editor's Note:

The Communist Party of China concluded its 19th National Congress in Beijing last month. China Daily asked business leaders from major multinational companies for their views on economic developments here and the country's global leadership role.

Mastercard hopes to play a key role in helping build a more inclusive and convenient financial system in the country

Dennis Chang is the division president of Mastercard Inc in China, a leading global payments and technology group.

What has been China's biggest achievement during the past five years and the most notable change?

Mastercard has been actively tracking China's development, and we have seen the country's transformation toward a "new economy", which features high-quality investments, products and services. Our New Economy Index has shown a high momentum in information technology and information services.

Not only is China leading in digital payment, it also has the highest momentum in the global digital economy. It has maintained stable growth while becoming more technology driven. Meanwhile, our Consumer Confidence Index, or CCI, shows consumers in China are among the most optimistic of the Asia-Pacific economies.

This is probably because of China's transformation to high-quality development-the balance between innovation and regulation, and its focus on supply-side reform and the real economy.

More importantly, Chinese leadership is keeping up with the times.

What are your impressions about the major economic and industrial policies released from the 19th CPC National Congress?

We are thrilled to see the leadership's blueprints, strategies and roadmaps, especially with regards to "modern finance". For us, it means the building of a more inclusive and convenient financial system.

We hope to use our expertise to construct a system, which effectively supports the real economy through innovations in science and technology, and human resources.

Ultimately, we aim to help people attain a better life by offering a more balanced development for everyone. We are also excited to hear the leadership's commitment to an open economy, and equal treatment to businesses both home and abroad.

China will not close its doors to the world-it will only become more open.

Can China's experiences, or practices, be used to solve global problems?

Many multinational corporations in China are often surprised by the country's capabilities in keeping up with and even staying ahead of trends.

During the 19th CPC National Congress, we saw the Party's leadership produce a clear roadmap ahead.

Many things could be learned from China's experiences and practices, for example, their digital innovation, financial inclusion and robust infrastructure. These would not have been possible without visionary leadership.

What three words would you use to describe China today?

Innovative. Invigorated. Influential. China's rapid development in the digital economy, especially in payments, has increased its efficiency and made the country more attractive to investors.

Our latest CCI shows Chinese consumers are optimistic about the future. That means economic reform has benefited the masses and helped invigorate the economy.

Lastly, as China advances its Belt and Road Initiative, the country is taking a bigger role on the world stage. This must be considered when mapping out any business strategy in Belt and Road markets.

What will China be like in five years and what is the country's long-term future?

President Xi Jinping has set goals and outlined China's roadmap for the next five years, as well as setting targets for 2035 and 2050.

In reaching these targets, the country will address the principal contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development, and the people's ever-growing need for a better life. We anticipate that China will have realized its goals for 2020 to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

We believe the country will continue to be a leader in digital economies, especially fintech, while playing a more important role on the world stage. In the long term, China will become a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.

How do you view China's role in the world today?

China is now a major champion of world peace, global development and international order. It is also one of the most important markets for multinational corporations.

As the country's influence grows, understanding and exchanging ideas will be critical for everyone. Also, China is now setting examples in many key areas from the mobile internet to e-commerce.

They provide useful guidelines for other countries that wish to have a connected and efficient economy.

What is the most unforgettable experience you have had in China?

I live here, and often host executives from outside of the country when they come to visit. I am always proud to see how stunned they are upon witnessing the extent to which China has evolved so quickly.

Back in 2012, few people were using mobile payment apps, but it started to change during the following year. By 2014, it had become common practice in many cities.

This year, people are riding "shared" bicycles and enjoying the benefits of a shared economy. More and more improvements to the quality of life here will be realized if innovation continues at this pace.

What factors will boost China's growth this year and in 2018, and what are the challenges ahead?

The country has taken solid measures to strengthen the real economy, advance supply-side reforms, nurture innovation and improve the quality of development.

These measures have laid a sturdy foundation for China's growth, which will endure for many years to come.

As the country develops, it may need to solve new issues in sustainability, such as building stronger connections with overseas markets. But development always comes with challenges, and through wisdom and patience, progress can be made.

China has demonstrated tremendous capability in seizing opportunities and maneuvering in a complicated international environment. So, we believe the economy will continue to progress.

Which sectors do you think offer the most opportunities for development?

As a payment technology company, we look forward to contributing to China's "modern finance" sector.

Simply put, that means a safer, more inclusive financial system, which is more coordinated with the real economy.

A financial system such as this will unlock even more opportunities for the country.

What opportunities will the Belt and Road Initiative throw up for China and the rest of the world?

It enables China to develop its foreign relations, while bringing mutually beneficial investment opportunities to the country and the rest of the world.

With this initiative, foreign markets are able to gain access to global investment. In return, they can learn from China's experiences in areas such as digital innovation, infrastructure and financial inclusion.

What are the most innovative trends or products in China?

Compared with many countries in the West that are still transitioning from desktop-based operations to smartphones, China's mobile internet is the most innovative.

The country leapt into the mobile internet age much faster, and is now leading in many aspects. This means there are opportunities for many stakeholders.

These include new industries such as e-commerce and traditional sectors like manufacturing.

Or it could be about small businesses looking to connect with local customers and larger businesses looking to trade overseas.

We believe the mobile internet will continue to transform China's economy.

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