The countdown clock has been ticking for a while and now it’s finally Slush o’clock! We got our fair share of Slush energy and inspiration in late October when we visited the first-ever Slush Shanghai together with a group of our clients and partners. Here are our favourite highlights from Shanghai and topics to follow in Helsinki.
China’s millennials shaping the mobile retail
China’s over 200 million millennials form the most mobile-connected generation in the world. In fact, through their usage of online and mobile platforms, as well as increased spend on online products and services, Chinese millennials are shaping the rules of retail in China. They don’t mind staying at home hence being often called as “homebodies”. The millennials vote with their mobile money, through apps and online payment systems.
This “homebody economy” creates new market opportunities for innovative products and services such as fitness and health based apps and technologies as well as personal assistant apps like Laiye. Their WeChat-based on-demand butler service made it to the Slush Shanghai pitching competition finals. Having its roots in China’s growing market for online-to-offline services, the app promises to liberate its users from downloading never ending numbers of apps. Time will tell.
In terms of Chinese fintech cluster, Chinese millennials play a crucial role pushing traditional financial institutions to alter their services. Fintech startups and investors globally rely on millennials as a key demographic to secure success.
The big change has already started and one thing is for sure: if you get into discussions on how to crack the millennial market and the app economy around it, make time to listen and engage.
The unlocked potential of fintech
Slush Shanghai also showcased the accelerated growth of Asian and especially Chinese fintech companies. Many of the biggest global investments in 2016 have gone to China at the same time when consumers’ speed of adopting new technologies is rocketing. And although fintech unicorns are still reasonably rare to find, China already has eight beating all the other regions in valuation.
New fintech ecosystems are starting to form in Asia, and fintech startups are making it big in hubs like Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo. While hubs in China and the United States currently grab most of the funding, Southeast Asia is not too far behind. For example, Singapore has worked hard to secure its role as the leading fintech hub in Southeast Asia. It has backed the industry with strong support from the regulators and facilitated multiple initiatives to foster the country’s attempt to become the world’s first “smart nation”.
The future of fintech industry rests heavily on the perceptions of the general public and the regulatory environment. We urge you to look out for a panel discussion on Fintech Startups Democratizing Capital Markets in order to learn how they empower people and shape our future.
In search of edtech unicorns
Last year China invested over $1.5 billion in edtech companies in search for a robust education market. Forecasts predict the global edtech spend to reach over $250 billion by 2020. And yet, the speed of digitalisation in education is estimated to take up to five times longer than in other sectors. The conversation around edtech in Shanghai was not short of contradicting views. The importance and role of various gatekeepers was raised over and over.
For the past five decades, the education model has gone through way more subtle change compared to other industries. We Finns take great pride in our national education system and having one of the world’s most innovative and disrupting ecosystems for education startups. Overall, population growth will be a key challenge for the entire sector making the industry seek ways to cash out by broadening their services to export markets.
The world is still waiting for the big disruption to change the industry, so join the Slush discussion around Education & Work to hear how technology will scale and determine the terms of education in future.
Maria Vaismaa is a marketing communications director at Miltton with a diverse background in media relations, brand building and reputation management both in the Nordics and Southeast Asia. Passionate for good storytelling and all things London.
30 November 2016