Your daily dose of China's tech
March 20, 2019


“There is a backlash against big tech, and this may indeed create an opening for Chinese players, especially as users may not realize they're Chinese.”

Claudia Biancotti of the US think tank Peterson Institute of International Economics, on the spread of Chinese content on social media platforms and Chinese-backed apps

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Wake up and smell the coffeePart 1 

What lies behind Luckin Coffee? ☕

Luckin Coffee, China’s delivery-focused Starbucks rival that has opened around 2,000 stores over the past year and a half, looks like a dream—a rapidly growing chain fueled by ambitious venture capital and buy-one-get-one-free offers. In just over 15 months after its launch, Luckin is preparing for a US IPO with a valuation of around $3 billion.

Look closer, and you’ll see a complicated web of related parties, venture capital and blitzscaling, most of it pointing back to another company: China Auto Rental Holdings (CAR Inc).

TechNode contributor Michael Norris will take us on a deep dive into the coffee chain heating up the market in China.

Regulated refunds

What: China’s Ministry of Transport has released a draft regulation which clarifies rules regarding the deposits users pay to access services such as bike rental.

Regulations: In the draft released on Tuesday, it is indicated that customers will be provided with personal bank accounts specifically for their deposits, while companies will be tasked with safeguarding the funds. The improper use of customer deposits is clearly defined as illegal under this new law, bringing clarity to a legal grey area.

Refund struggles: The move comes as a list of shared mobility firms face mounting pressure to refund user deposits as concerns gradually mount about financial stability throughout the industry. For example, as rumors of bankruptcy at Ofo circulated in December, more than 10 million users requested a refund of their deposits from the struggling bike-rental firm. Hundreds of users later descended on its Beijing headquarters, demanding their money be returned.

Shrinking investments: Government data shows that investments in the mobility rental sector shrank to RMB 41.9 billion (around $6.2 billion) in 2018, a 61% decrease compared to RMB 107.2 billion in 2017.

Regulations coming? In keeping with what seems to be a global trend towards tech privacy regulations, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a March 15 press conference that the government had allowed the development of new businesses with cautious intervention over the past year, but that it does have a bottom line. He also mentioned that more prudent regulations would be introduced into the country’s shared economy.

- Jill Shen, TechNode reporter


Concentrated daily news
Huawei significantly widened its share of the smartphone landscape during the fourth quarter of 2018 in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), narrowing the gap with market leader Samsung.

Q&A platform Zhihu is forging ahead with its paid content ecosystem with the planned launch of a new membership system on Monday.

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi announced on Tuesday the rollout of its payment system Mi Pay in India following a December launch in beta mode. Built upon the UPI platform developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the app will be available soon through Mi Apps, Xiaomi’s Android app store. At the same time, the company led by Lei Jun has announced its first consolidated financial statements since listing in Hong Kong last July, reporting revenue of RMB 174.9 billion ($26 billion) for 2018, representing a year-on-year increase of 52.6%.


Small drops to get smart on China's tech world
  • Subway blockchain: The Shenzhen Metro has issued its first e-invoice powered by Tencent-backed blockchain infrastructure. (Cointelegraph)
  • Van fires: Electric vans produced by the Chinese EV manufacturer BJEV are apparently catching fire while their batteries are being charged. Sounds like a Samsung Galaxy Note on wheels. (Quartz)
  • Beyond the wall: Chinese companies are gaining increased visibility on the most popular social media platforms outside of China. (Nikkei)
  • AI impact: Amid all the hype, one question is key: Is China prepared for the real impact of AI? (TechNode)
  • Apple and Spotify who? Tencent Music saw strong growth in total revenues in the fourth quarter and for the entirety of 2018, as well as a steady rise in paying users during the year. (TechNode)

That's all for today!

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