How China’s Technology Ensured It Was Prepared For Coronavirus

By Anugraha Sundaravelu

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China remains leaps ahead of the rest of the world in the way that it has adopted technology, effortlessly integrating apps like WeChat and Alipay into its daily life. Much of Chinese life is conducted online with a tech solution for virtually everything. In the face of one of the biggest epidemics that the country is facing, China’s cosy relationship with technology is proving to be its saving grace. The days following the lunar new year holidays saw less than one-third of China’s 300 million migrant workers back at work because of the lockdowns and quarantines across the country in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Out of this tragic turn of events has come many creative solutions that might bolster Chinese workplace productivity when the threat of the virus eventually passes. JP Morgan sees China’s economy growing 15% in the second quarter as it recovers from coronavirus. How is the country’s economy still managing to stay afloat and getting ready to thrive? The answer is China’s quick and innovative use of technology.

Businesses are working around the coronavirus thanks to apps like WeChat and Alipay. People at home are keeping themselves entertained on platforms like Weibo, Duoyin (Chinese TikTok), and Kuaishou.

Business as Usual

With offices remaining closed, workers and businesses in China have flocked to platforms like Alibaba’s DingTalk, WeChat Work and remote working tool-Zoom in record numbers. This sudden influx of users even caused the crash of these apps in spite of their huge servers. It was a similar scenario with Huawei’s WeLink and ByteDance’s team collaboration platform Lark – known as Feishu in China. With teams dialling into work using these platforms, it ensures that China’s lifestyle moves further online.

The epidemic has forced businesses to adopt creative business strategies that will come in handy even after the threat of the virus passes. DingTalk went a step further by offering free use of its work-from-home features, even going so far as to introduce a beauty filter for video calls to save users the trouble of putting on makeup while working from home.

WeChat wasn’t far behind in its innovations which included increasing the maximum participant limit in its video conferencing service to accommodate up to 300 people. WeChat has also rolled out features like telemedicine and free online training to hospitals and schools.

Blind Food Delivery Dates

Chinese life service platform Meituan has introduced ‘contactless’ food delivery, where meals are left at a designated area for the customer to pick up, thereby eliminating in-person interaction with delivery personnel. The company also installed meal retrieval cupboards around hospitals for Wuhan medical staff to pick up their food. Fast food giants KFC and Pizza Hut have followed suit, and now ‘contactless delivery’ sounds like a service that is likely to stay in demand for the foreseeable future. 

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No Place Like Online

With schools and fitness centres remaining indefinitely closed, students and fitness enthusiasts have turned to video platforms like Duoyin and Youku where they are able to learn from the comfort of their homes. Similarly, movies slated to be released in cinemas have been released on online platforms instead. 

The Future of Cash

In a country that wasn’t too dependent on cash, to begin with, coronavirus might have put the nail in the coffin for hard cash. The Chinese government has ordered banks to withdraw potentially infected cash from circulation and disinfect it before returning it to the market. Given that the Chinese has an already fraught relationship with cash, it may be safe to assume that the recent developments could lead to the extinction of banknotes in China altogether. With China already having one foot in the door of a cashless reality thanks to apps like WeChat Pay and Alipay, this scenario is not far from becoming a reality.

A post coronavirus China will be an even more cash-averse one and with the use of cards never really taking off in the past, British businesses will need to prepare by offering the option for Chinese tourists to pay using Chinese payment methods like WeChat Pay and Alipay. With a heightened reliance on apps like WeChat Pay and Alipay and a growing user base among the Chinese population, platforms such as these are increasingly becoming powerful marketing tools for Western businesses looking to engage with Chinese shoppers. There has never been a better time for Western businesses to establish a presence on these platforms and start marketing to Chinese shoppers. 

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