How will China’s internet economy develop further? (Part two)

The elderly are coming online.

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With a higher life expectancy and falling birth rates, China’s population is greying at an extremely fast rate. Those who experienced the country’s upheaval in the 1960s and ’70s, then contributed to China’s boom years in the following decades, are now reaching retirement age. A recent Penguin Intelligence report revealed that as of 2017, nearly half of China’s population was over the age of 40, with 17.3% of the country aged over 60.

With smartphones becoming an increasingly essential tool in daily life, as a communication and entertainment device, as well as a means to facilitate payments for everyday purchases, the elderly are increasingly coming online. Tech companies that manage to develop new platforms or adapt existing applications for this segment of the population will find an abundance of new users.

In fact, Penguin Intelligence has found that China’s elderly is receptive to adopting smartphones and new apps, particularly when it comes to mobile payments.

Source: Penguin Intelligence.

Tencent’s WeChat has already made progress on this front. The platform recently made it easier for senior citizens to use the WeChat Pay function by allowing younger users to issue virtual cards to their elderly family members.

Like many others in the country, Chinese users above the age of 40 also use their phone to look for entertainment.

 

Source: Penguin Intelligence.

Social networks are by far the most popular avenue for these age groups.

An E-commerce Industry and More Services for the elderly

Companies like Alibaba and JD.com have changed how China shops—and how tech companies do business. Since the elderly prefer brick-and-mortar retail locations over virtual shops, how can they be brought online?

Penguin Intelligence found that two-thirds of those aged between 40 and 49 already shop at both physical stores and online. The researchers expect that a senior-specific e-commerce platform will be developed in the coming years, as this age group enters retirement.

Mobile payments and e-commerce represent just two services that can be utilised by China’s older population in their daily lives. There are other applications that will be of use to them too, such as platforms that provide access to simple medical check-ups or keep track of their medical records. As China’s demographics become greyer, tech companies will need to adjust their business models to keep up with the changes.

Editor: Brady Ng