StartUpBeat of the Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) talked with Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary chairman of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, about the merger of local startup GoGoVan and mainland-based 58 Suyun.
In the same interview, they also discussed other related issues.
On mobile payment
HKEJ: GoGoVan may have to handle many challenges. For example, people in the mainland are used to mobile payment, but Hongkongers prefer paying in cash. Why do people in these two places differ in this aspect?
Fong: I think consumer habits are very important. Hong Kong’s merchants may think the service charge for mobile payment is high and they are reluctant to use it. And the public are not quite ready either. That’s why it has not been fully developed.
Currently, there are quite a number of payment choices, including O! ePay by Octopus and PayMe by HSBC, which are not quite popular.
Octopus has been slammed for making no changes in its business for 19 years. The reason for this is its banking license, which imposed many restrictions on the company. As it plans to develop other lines of business, it let go of its banking license and adopted a stored value facility (SVF) license instead, but even SVF is still subject to certain regulation.
HKEJ: Hongkongers have quite a mixed attitude toward mobile payment. What is the best approach?
Fong: Mobile payment involves both security and regulation. In China, the entry requirements for mobile payment are relatively lower. Most of the services are directly launched to the market. That is, until something goes wrong and the authority has to regulate again.
In Hong Kong, we have a solid regulatory framework, so it takes more time for the authority to accommodate new payment tools.
Take TNG Wallet as an example. Some people wants to use it but they also hope it could be better regulated.
Hong Kong’s market is like overcoming limitations within an established system, but in China, they simply break away from the traditional approach from the very beginning.
Starting one’s own business
HKEJ: GoGoVan’s [success] seems to suggest entrepreneurship is a valid career choice. Its co-founder Steven Lam Hoi-yuen also said starting one’s own business is an option. Having been running your business for years, do you agree?
Fong: In this world, some are employees while some are entrepreneurs. The government has been encouraging people to start their own business.
But in reality, not everyone is a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates. Statistically speaking, only one out of 100 entrepreneurs succeeds in the end. Lots of entrepreneurs have failed numerous times.
HKEJ: But is entrepreneurship becoming popular these days? Can the success of GoGoVan provide some encouragement to those who want to try?
Fong: GoGoVan is a success, but have you seen those that failed? Entrepreneurship involves quite a bit of gambling. You consider a proposal feasible, but when 99 individuals out there say it won’t work, would you stick to your idea?
Success is half about tenacity, and half about luck.
Note: The views expressed in this interview are personal opinions of the resource person and do not necessarily reflect those of HKEJ.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 1
Translation by Jonathan Chong
[Chinese version 中文版]
To watch the entire interview on video, please visit http://startupbeat.hkej.com/?p=49525
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