Mobile World Live’s Asia editor Joseph Waring provides a weekly update on developments in the world’s largest mobile market:
MVNOs face uphill battle
China’s 41 MVNOs, which have been in operation for less than a year, have signed up fewer than two million subscribers. This is far short of the government’s 10 million target set early last year. The country has 1.2 billion mobile connections.
The move to give private firms a licence to resell mobile services last January is a two-year pilot project – the government reportedly will review the status of the MVNOs at the end of this year and revoke the licence of firms with a poor performance, C114.com said. A handful of firms now account for the majority of the customers.
A source with one MVNO told Tencent Tech that while the government encourages enterprises to join, it “lacks effective supervision and unified development standards, which leads to uneven development”.
Another major issue is that the wholesale price offered by the country’s top the operators is higher than the retail price.
Tencent launches online bank
China’s internet giant Tencent, which runs WeChat, has launched an online bank called WeBank that has no physical branches.
The private internet-based bank, which received approval by regulators in July, made its first loan over the weekend, although its formal opening is planned for April, China Daily said.
Shenzhen-based Tencent has a 30 per cent stake WeBank, with two local investment firms among the other major shareholders.
E-commerce venture raises CNY1B
Two overseas internet funds have offered to pay CNY1 billion ($162 million) to take a 5 per cent stake in Dalian Wanda Group’s e-commerce joint venture it formed with Baidu and Tencent in August.
The round of funding values the Wanda e-commerce firm at CNY20 billion, the China Daily reported. Wanda has a 70 per cent interest in the venture while the two internet giants each have a 30 per cent stake.
The venture aims to develop the world’s largest online-to-offline business with plans to invest CNY20 billion over the next five years.
Mainland has half a billion smartphone users
China was expected to have more than half a billion smartphone users by the end of last year, an official with the State Internet Information Office said.
The agency said at the end of 2014, three of every 10 smartphone users in the world were Chinese. More than 40 per cent of China’s citizens are expected to have access to the internet through their cellphones this year.
The country of 1.4 billion people has 1.2 billion mobile connections, according to GSMA Intelligence.