Embrace change, take risks, and disrupt yourself
Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
The Chinese Fintech Revolution
China is quickly becoming home to the largest fintech ecosystem in the world, benefiting from historically low use of traditional banking, high smartphone penetration, a changing demographic and a consumer acceptance of banking without traditional infrastructure. Dominated by giants like Baidu, Ant, PingAn and Tencent, combined with many highly successful start-ups like WeLab, the success in delivering both personalized financial services and an impressive level of financial inclusion is a model for the rest of the world.
This is not a story of disruption of legacy banking as much as a story of filling a previously unmet need for advanced financial services supported by smartphones.
To discuss how fintech firms have benefited from open access to data, and how the Chinese consumer benefits from value added services not available to most in the world, I am joined by my friend, Matt Dooley, founding board member of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong and founder of Connected Thinking Ltd. who guided a tour of Shenzhen for myself and the former global CEO of HeathWallace, Dave Wallace.
Jim Marous: Matt and Dave, I'm glad to have you on the show. We don't usually turn around things so quickly but we just got back from China, from Shenzhen last week. I did an article called the Best of Banking has Arrived or the Future of Banking is Here, for the financial brand. The response to that article has been without a doubt, astounding and encouraging because the article really focused on what we experienced in China but more importantly, what the potential is.
Jim Marous: We're going to do a quick introduction a little bit, that Matt is the person who guided our tour in Shenzhen. Dave Wallace from HeathWallace joined us from the UK. The three of us did not only a tour of some of the best of financial institutions but the best of technology in Shenzhen and really gave us an idea of a mixture of the culture and the potential of what's available in Shenzhen but really in the world. I want to start off with you, Matt, in the trip to Shenzhen, what were you hoping that you'd expose? Both Dave and I to when we were there?
Matt Dooley: I love taking new people or people who have never been to China and throwing them into Shenzhen. Because Shenzhen's an absolute melting pot, it's on the border directly opposite or right next to Hong Kong. It's only a 40 year old city but in the last 10 years it's really morphed itself into a digital center. It's a digital center, not only for the manufacturer of say all the IoT, so Apple products are developed in Shenzhen. But what we're saying is with WeChat and Tencent being located in the city, you're seeing a lot of coders coming to town, you're seeing a lot of the whole ecosystem around social and gaming has come to Shenzhen.
Matt Dooley: But you've also got the largest financial institutions in China, also located in the city. And you've got a very strong regulator that has close links with the Hong Kong regulators. It's a great melting pot for FinTech. FinTech in China isn't about... or isn't about just transforming banking, it's embedding banking into everyday life. These blurs and the lifestyle, you really can't see it or read about it and it doesn't bring it to life unless you actually see it. What I did with you guys is what I do with all my trips to China is I put you... we go out at night, we go and meet entrepreneurs, we meet people who are actually living this lifestyle. You get a firsthand account of how technology and digital has really transformed their lives with financial services just seamlessly embedded into it.
Jim Marous: Dave, us both being in new Shenzhen and we'd both been to Hong Kong, there was an immediate difference in just the feel of the city. Dave, what was your first impression as we walked around the streets of Shenzhen?
Dave Wallace: I mean, to me, I really didn't quite know what to expect. I was expecting a modern metropolis and Shenzhen delivered in terms of that. But I think one of the things which was immediately apparent was how quiet it was. A lot of the vehicles on the road are electric. Instead of hearing the relentless traffic noise that you tend to hear in Hong Kong, what we heard was silence Shenzhen. Very few of the cars are Petro. It immediately was like, "This is completely unexpected." There seems to be a lot less pollution.
Dave Wallace: I mean, strangely it felt like Singapore, there was large boulevards with trees everywhere. It just felt like a very kind of... I would say eco forward-looking cities. I mean, that was an immediate surprise to me. I think the difference of or the fact that you can go from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in less than an hour, you get this incredible contrast between the two places. So yeah, that was my immediate opinion of view.
Jim Marous: Matt, you started our tour before we even visited with the financial institutions and you took us to a fresh market, a Hema market that is actually the outgrowth of one of the divisions of Alibaba. Can you explain a little bit about what that fresh market concept is and how it's grown in China?
Matt Dooley: You don't just have Alibaba doing it. You have a number of organizations having their own spin on it. You've even got Walmart, have their Walmart fresh tested it in Shenzhen as well. Now, Jack Ma coined the phrase, "New retail." And the Hema supermarket is all about new retail. What it is, is being at the center of the community. There's a lot of new cities being built in China and within Hema supermarket is at the center of a new residential and metropolis being built it. Within a two kilometer radius, they deliver within 30 minutes. You can either go to the physical store and in the physical store it's a bit like a supermarket from a Western context but it's also like a wet market in an Eastern context. A wet market means that you can have live fish and live animals actually in the place.
Matt Dooley: Like anything, food is a very important part of the lifestyle of any society and it's the element of upmost trust. I always label it as a trust factory. The whole system when you actually walk into the store, you see above you a whole moving conveyor belt where people actually do the shopping of the online orders and put them into little bags and these bags are all barcoded. Whether you're ordering one item or a thousand items, they're all picked within that store or put on their little bags and then they go above and then out the back where they quickly get onto a bicycle or they get into a small truck and actually go to the residence. Now, this was the last mile in terms of making the whole society digital from an Alibaba perspective. Alipay, when they started opening these stores and the aim is to have over 2000 stores by the end of 2022. It's a staggering amount because what these stores are is they know all the data on who's ordering, what they're eating and everything.
Matt Dooley: Most of the items are actually picked, so the whole supply chain is actually optimize. Fresh produce is picked in the morning and it actually appears on the shelves. They have a lot of items just like a wet market in any city in China, where the items, you know, where they're being picked by which farmer at what time. You know, it's got today's date on it. So you know it's absolutely fresh. At seven o'clock at night, these items, if they're still on the shelf, are half price and you can actually buy that. But now Alibaba has all that rich data and they utilize that rich data not only for understanding your preferences in terms of eating but also financial services.
Jim Marous: Today, we walked through this and I think it was the first experience where our heads seemed to be on a swivel because every time we went from a place where we saw extraordinarily fresh vegetables and fruit, to seen a guy taking the fish out of the tank and preparing.
Dave Wallace: I know.
Jim Marous: I think... what were your first impressions? Because in European cities, the fresh market or the local market is a staple, a much more than in normal cities in the U.S. except for let's say New York and Los Angeles. But what was your impression and what did you see as possibly being the future from not only to the market standpoint but also from the ability for institutions like a financial institution to be at the hub of this?
Dave Wallace: I mean, to me it was incredible. I mean it just... it felt like a really nice destination. It's clean, it was bright. I think my first view, I was like, "Who are all these people in blue wandering around?" Then Matt explained that they were pickers and suddenly you realize that there's an army of people rushing around getting food. I think, that real sense of East-meets-West was there. It felt like a traditional, any grocery shop that you'd see in the West. But suddenly, there was all the fish [inaudible 00:10:08] with people catching fish and clams and... it just felt very fresh. But I think the other thing that was interesting is there was a restaurant which was in the middle of the supermarket as well.
Dave Wallace: There seemed to be people coming in, they'd catch fish and that fish would then be cooked for them in the supermarket. It felt like it was a destination in its own right. I mean, the other thing which was... I mean, a real surprise was in terms of checkout, there was two kiosks in the corner of the store and you realize that the point of the store is about delivery. It's not about people going. People can go if they want to but it's about that delivery.
Dave Wallace: To me I was like, "Actually this is quite an interesting model." Because instead of us all driving our cars to supermarkets or getting bulk deliveries coming to us on trucks from Amazon or Tesco's or whoever it is, what you have is a supermarket where people I think seem to be ordering a small number of items but those items are being delivered on mopeds, on bicycles. It felt very eco in terms of what was going on. I think to Matt's point around data from a financial services point of view, having companies involved in retail, it helps to build trust, it helps from a data point of view to understand what kind of behavior is so that people like Alibaba can actually then come up with new products which are fit for the set for that audience.
Jim Marous: Speaking of Alibaba, one of the places that Matt took us to was to the Alibaba Cloud unit. It really gave us some perspective on the expansiveness of the Alibaba network. We sometimes share about Alipay and some people may know some of the retail outlets but I think from the Alibaba Cloud perspective, we were able to see a... I'll call it an org chart of businesses. Not only that are impacting China but are impacting the world. Can you explain a little bit about what you know about the Alibaba Cloud network but also Alibaba in general Matt?
Matt Dooley: It's just like how Amazon started. Amazon realized that they had all this latency for most of the year. When you think of Alibaba, you think of two days, you think of the 11th of November every year and that's called Single's day, the 11th of the 11th. That's where Jack Ma created a holiday where everyone can go shopping. There's a lot of bachelors in China and they just love this. It's like a celebration of shopping and it's e-commerce shopping. Other companies have now come onto the bandwagon. But it really started off as an event that was on television and it just created this huge promotion that everyone did their shopping. When you look at the size of it, like last year they... just in a 24 hour period, you had one company doing $38 billion in sales. Just one company. So that was [crosstalk 00:13:49]
Jim Marous: Without any downtime. I mean they did this all-
Matt Dooley: No downtime.
Jim Marous: Yeah.
Matt Dooley: It's to process the... you have Ant Financial, which is the FinTech for Alibaba. They have created an amazing scale for their business that they can do all these transactions and without fail, it all works smoothly. Ali Cloud is the backbone behind the Alibaba Group in terms of cloud services and-
Jim Marous: When we look at that too, they serve over 700 million users a month. That's 70% of the Chinese population, which from a scale standpoint is to me, very numbing I guess.
Dave Wallace: I mean it was one of the things which time and time again we picked up on, was just the incredible scale around these things. I think, going back to the fact that Alipay is moving onto a cloud platform, there are a large number of businesses and it's being mandated that they'll all have to use the cloud and you think, "This is no mean undertaking." But I think what they are looking to do is to leverage the platform because they know that scale is absolutely paramount to everything that they do.
Jim Marous: From a customer experience perspective too, Dave, I think what was interesting, this was a great example of just massive amount of data that's used for a better experience. I think, this is not the only time that we heard the organization on their own say two things. Number one... or three things actually. Number one, it's about trust. Number two, it's about using data responsibly. And number three, it was about serving all consumers. What was interesting is they have different businesses and they touch people in different ways. But there's an inclusionary factor from a standpoint of making it so that the data allows not only the orientation to touch a part of everybody's life but more importantly to make it so that they can serve the most basic of needs from the most basic of consumers, where sometimes they are left out of the normal system. Dave, you're the customer experience expert. You think about the power of this to make a better experience. It's pretty amazing, isn't it?
Dave Wallace: Yeah. I mean, it was actually quite unexpected in terms of how the experience was critical as part of everything that we talked about. I think, that whole thing around inclusion, they kept on coming up but they want people to be able to be part of the systems so that everybody can have access to financial services products, they can have access to lending. I think as you say that the vast amounts of data that they have, they seem to become using wisely in terms of thinking about new products, thinking about vertical products, thinking about segmentation in terms of the way that they're doing things. I think, what you see is better experiences. I guess if you look at the Alibaba... the world of Alibaba, there's a huge number of products and services out there, servicing different customers. I think, what they have is one platform underneath it but they're using the data to make sure that they reach people appropriate.
Jim Marous: Matt, from an Alibaba standpoint, it was very clear when we met with Garry Sien, who was the Principal Advisory Consultant for Alibaba Cloud, that they have aspirations expand globally, don't they?
Matt Dooley: They do. When you have a look at their business model, their business model was built on three pillars. The first one is inclusive finance. They've really dummied down everything to create, the whole concept of what Ant Financial is. It's all having a notion of how ads work together to build and create a really healthy colony and it's rewarding the hard workers. That whole bit about inclusive finance came with the social scoring of Sesame credit, which is another division of Ant Financial. But the second one was green finance. Basically creating a whole host of investment vehicles and everything that would really support sustainable development and sustainable investments. You can see that when you actually go there that there's a lot of investment in companies that provide say public bicycle systems.
Matt Dooley: There's green funds on the platform that you can actually invest in. The third pillar that they have is really technology and it's this technology that is the real critical thing here. Everything is built on cloud and they have this thing which they call the 3-1-0 strategy for online lending. And really it's a service standard where you have three minute application process, a one second loan approval with zero manual intervention. Now, when you're building for China and you're building for that 1.2 billion people, you can't have humans getting involved in the process. They've really engineered it so well. The other thing that you start to see around Shenzhen is how these online programs are actually connected to physical infrastructure in the city.
Matt Dooley: One of the things that both Tencent and Alibaba did is every year there's two mass migrations, the biggest migrations in the world that happens at Chinese New Year. It also happens in Golden Week, which is the celebration at the 1st of October, the Independence Day for China. At those times people move from the cities and go back to their small villages. The train stations are built so massively but the infrastructure to get tickets and everything have been solved by these tech companies and through the payment and stuff. It's really the seamless operations which you'd take for granted but it's been perfectly engineered and executed at the same time.
Jim Marous: We went from Alibaba and then another massive company that I think a lot of people in the West are probably less familiar with from a name standpoint that is Ping An financial. Now, Ping An is prominent sense and for no other reason than they have the building that everybody looks up to. When I say everybody looks up to, I think for a person like Dave who didn't really love heights to look at the bottom of the building and to actually see the building expand at the top where it actually is almost bigger at the top than it is in the bottom. There's a very strange dynamic of perspectives. We were fortunate enough to get up to the 118 floor to have lunch and the 118 floor is the top of the building to overlook the entire city.
Jim Marous: Two things were immediately impressive. Number one, when you walked in the building, it happened to be lunchtime for us. Everybody coming off the escalator. I poked a Dave and said, "Do you see anything different about this?" He goes, "Everybody's using facial recognition to get through the turnstiles." I said, "More than that. Look around." And he goes, "My God, we are double the age of everybody that's coming out of this building."
Dave Wallace: [inaudible 00:22:12] Doubles the... saying it kindly [inaudible 00:22:15]
Matt Dooley: I'd say double the age and double the size.
Jim Marous: Then we find out that the average age in Shenzhen is 30 and the average age at Ping An is 29 but Matt, from the perspective of what you wanted us to see and hear from the executive that we talked to in Ping An, what were you hoping that we would get out of the Ping An visit?
Matt Dooley: I think that the Ping An story is a real unique one because it's one of the few organizations in China that has every financial services license across both banking and insurance. They're quite a unique company in the sense that a few years ago they started really focusing on ecosystems and it wasn't about just digitizing their own business. Their whole business model revolves around moving and embedding financial services where people need it the most in the ecosystems. Of course, they've focused on the first ecosystem, which was finance but they quickly moved into other ecosystems around which have intersections with FinTech. Healthcare, auto, real estate and what they know as smart cities. They're very... they're looking at all this technology and how it powers business transformation but much wider than financial services.
Dave Wallace: I mean, to me it was... I mean we talk about things like customer journeys in the West and how do we look at how people buy things and how do we insert ourselves as brands as part of that journey. Here's a company which is focused on that and excelling around it. Matt mentioned automotive and to me, one of the things that was explained is that Ping An wants to own the entire journey of somebody sitting there thinking, "I want to buy a car." To getting content around buying that car to getting data in terms of the sites and the places that they go to relating to buying that car. To the point that, what we were told is that when someone arrives in the dealership, Ping An has an incredibly good idea as to what model color, trim and everything that that particular individual wants to do. I think, it's that exploding out journeys and focusing on those journeys, which I think is pretty impressive to be honest.
Jim Marous: It's interesting too because he mentioned the gentleman... that we mentioned, Ericson Chan, who is the CEO of Ping An Technology. What was interesting, he said they actually now have monetized the data to sell it back to the manufacturers. So the manufacturers are actually starting to build my vehicle before I've even gone into the dealership to ask for it. To again, to simplify the supply chain. But even more than that, the data that they pick up and the data that they deploy allows them to know, "What should my insurance cost for this vehicle based on the way I drive?"
Jim Marous: They capture data at every point and it's really... two things, number one, it became clear. It makes it more economical for the user. They find ways to cut costs for the user. Number two, they want to make it a better experience. They want to make the entire process of everything from automobiles to healthcare. Every point of contact, make it better. The amount of data they're collecting is beyond any scope I've ever seen, which obviously is part of why they're number seven on the FinTech global 2000. They're a big company but doing things on the most microwave.
Dave Wallace: I mean it's-
Matt Dooley: But one of the things they did, with their ecosystem plays, a few years ago, they bought the largest auto marketplace in China was actually listed on the U.S. stock exchange. They went and actually acquired that company. But it was that strategic play that they could actually make that acquisition and turn it into a great asset for the entire group. But the other thing about Ping An that... it's just mind blowing, is they can take up greater internal ideas, throw some of their 1000 data scientists or their... I think it was close to 30,000 computer engineers. When they solve something, they create companies in their own right.
Matt Dooley: They've created four unicorns firstly with Lufax which is one of the largest fintechs in the world, a P to P lending program, which has now become one of the largest wealth platforms in China. They've got OneConnect, which is their service integration for the technology that they provide. They actually leverage that technology for other banks and other insurance companies in China to allow them to have their tech and use their tech. They're not afraid to do that. They basically... everything that they do it's similar to Alibaba and the other organizations we visited, it's all on the cloud.
Jim Marous: It was interesting Matt, I can't exactly remember what it was, a relationship between HSBC and Ping An but-
Matt Dooley: It was, HSBC used to be the biggest shareholder in Ping An Group. Today Ping An is the largest even or investor in the HSBC Group. In such a small amount of time, they'd gone from being the small kid on the block or the new kid on the block to the biggest kid on the block.
Jim Marous: They're truly... as you said at the beginning, they're touching every single element of financial services. But then the logistics of those financial services as well. It was interesting-
Matt Dooley: They also control, they control the health system. They digitize the health records for the Chinese government. In Shenzhen alone, because they run the auto systems and emergency services, they also provide the traffic. The data scientists for Ping An actually work in control the traffic flows in the city. They've got their fingers in every pie.
Jim Marous: It's truly... they're one of the many companies that feed into what is why way from the technology side, the smart city. I mean, they're actually making smart cities work. What was interesting too about Ping An and the travels that we had is we went from Ping An by far the largest... if nothing else from a building standpoint but from a financial risk standpoint to WeLab. And WeLab, just to make sure everybody knows is not part of WeChat and Wepay and WeBank but really it's a FinTech in the true sense of the word. It's a smaller company. It was founded-
Matt Dooley: It's a unicorn.
Jim Marous: Yeah. Founded by Simon Loong, who's a Stanford graduate, which I made a comment on social media yesterday that it was pretty amazing how many Stanford graduates we saw in a two day period but Matt, can you tell us a little bit about just as a foundation point, WeLab.
Matt Dooley: Simon founded the company. It was really at Stanford that he actually came up with the idea with it. But he had a whole career as a banker at both at Citibank and at Standard Charter Bank. His last position at Standard Charter Bank was the regional head of personal lending. He wanted to get into doing new kinds of lending and he could see the trends in China. But WeLab is a fantastic Hong Kong story because it's a Hong Kong startup that really has leveraged by going over the border to get the scale and move into the largest market on the planet in terms of China.
Matt Dooley: They're a personal lender, they're all about financial inclusion. But it's really the culture of WeLab, which it sets us apart from most companies that you'll visit. The personal culture and the energy of the founder and his executive team really goes across the whole of the team and everyone we saw in their office. When I visited them three years ago, they had 32 people in Sheung Wan and they had about 200 people in Shenzhen. Today they have close to a thousand people in Shenzhen and about 160 in Hong Kong.
Matt Dooley: The scale of Shenzhen really shows you the power of what talent actually exist in China in terms of coders, in terms of design thinkers, in terms of creative people. They've just made it happen. WeLab is one of the... they've taken up one of the eight licenses for the virtual banking licenses in Hong Kong. We're looking at... and probably in the next two months they'll launch what their version of being a virtual bank into Hong Kong. But it's the culture of the... and the value of the founder, which is probably the greatest story there.
Jim Marous: What's interesting too on WeLab is they actually do credit for... a lot of it is credit for people that are buying mobile phones. They said that almost instantaneously they can take a person's phone history and determine their credit worthiness. One thing that was very impressive is their whole focus was on risk avoidance. That's the background of Simon. It's a risk adverse mentality. But as you said, complete inclusion. Dave, one of the things that I think caught both of us was sometimes you go in thinking, "Okay. But this is all done smoke and mirrors and the consumer's forgotten about" They mentioned about a culture book that they're building. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dave Wallace: I mean, they're really very focused on getting the culture right. I mean, again, it's impressive. They have... I think they're about to publish the employee handbook and it talks about their values. I think it's quite a big document. I think, as Matt said, that whole culture around people and really focusing on their particular customer group I think really came through. I think, they're looking at very tech savvy people. So you mentioned about foam products but they understand tech savvy people are... they broadly speak, I guess fall into 25 to 35 year old people. But they were at pains to stress that it's not about age, it's about behavior. They really are looking at how to connect with those people, provide those people with relevant products and services so that they can live the lives that they want to do. I think they really trying to solve problems and they're identifying those problems and doing everything they can to solve those problems in the most effective way that I can.
Jim Marous: What was interesting is we went from WeLabs to WeBank, which is a unit of Tencent and an amazingly impressive financial institution. Dave, if we walked into the building and as we went into the conference room, what caught you off guard?
Dave Wallace: I immediately started to access the kind of data that they have and their ability to see what's going on across all their businesses from a digital point of view. They're able to respond to things like that. They can respond to things incredibly quickly. I mean it's just... it was so impressive the data visualization that is there. Things become very obvious in terms of uptimes latency, all of the other metrics that people would have in place in terms of our control room.
Jim Marous: How about that conference room where we thought we were in a normal conference room until the guy pushed the button? What happen then?
Matt Dooley: It's not a conference room. [crosstalk 00:36:10]
Dave Wallace: It was very James Bond. But I have to say, very James Bond but again, there's something-
Matt Dooley: It's the enterprise control rooms. It's not a conference room-
Jim Marous: So all over sudden we-
Matt Dooley: ... it's state of the art.
Jim Marous: They opened up the windows, basically transformed from a whiteboard type scenario to windows. You saw the windows and he saw the control room where they keep the customer experiences, as you said Dave, very high and it was interesting as Henry Ma, who's the chief innovation officer at WeBank said... asked you a question, he said, "How do you... how much do you think we... how do you think the innovation process goes?" And what I think he asked us to guess how long the innovation process went.
Dave Wallace: He was like, "How long do you think it takes us to go from thinking about [inaudible 00:37:05] to actually launching it. I stuck my hat on my Western hat on and thought, "I guess the average, it's probably sort of six to 12 months in the West." Having to learn about some of the speed in terms of China. I said, "Okay, I don't know, two months." And he said, "No, it's 11 days." 11 days is the fastest they'd been able to do it. But they are talking about days rather than months in terms of being able to-
Jim Marous: They also create between 20 and 30 product updates each month.
Dave Wallace: Absolutely.
Jim Marous: This is one of those moments and Matt I know loved it. Where this was our last visit and it was one of those he had said, "Okay, now I'm going to blow your minds completely." Because the difference between our perception of speed, innovation and customer experience in the West and what we saw not conceptualized but being done by WeBank on the scale of 525 million transactions a day where you have 206 million customers and you have it done in the most lean organization that I've ever seen from a customer versus employee perspective. It was mind blowing without any doubt.
Matt Dooley: I think, the other thing that really amazes me every time I go with WeLab... WeBank is really the cost of their operations. The way they've engineered it is to keep it really simple and very cheap. What they're trying to do is to make sure that they have the absolute scale but they have scale at a cost advantage so no one can actually beat them. The other thing that they obsessed with is the data flow. Now, they're in their 30% owned by Tencent but they're not Tencent. But they get access to the Tencent platform and the data flows. I think that's an amazing thing is they've been able to create an advantage. But the other bit is they've driven this scale of getting other banks onto their platform and it's this syndication of their lending business.
Matt Dooley: When you look at China, China is made up of many provinces and Shenzhen is in the province of Guangdong. But there's all these other provinces where other customers would actually trust. Not necessarily WeBank or WeChat. It might be the local institutions there. What they've allowed them to do is to come onto their cloud and get access to customers in those provinces and lend to those customers. Where a percentage of that lending book goes to... a large percentage goes to the incumbent in the province but they're able to get and grow their lending book across all the other provinces as well by taking a percentage of this indication of the loans.
Jim Marous: Finally, before we left I pulled Henry aside and I said, "How do you keep these employees?" And it was interesting because it was not different from what we saw. We laughed is, it's about setting up the culture. Henry is another Stanford Graduate and he made it very clear that they're trying to work on a way to move away from the 996 mentality of China, which is nine o'clock in the morning to nine o'clock at night, six days a week. They're trying to work on ways to get it so that people can get more engaged with their families. I think not only was the inclusionary factor of every institution we met a priority but you're starting to see a realization that while the Chinese culture works in one way, that the way to get and keep employees, especially at these startups and these big firms is to really be different from an employee experience basis.
Jim Marous: Now, I'm not going to say that everything's hunky-dory in China. I'm not turning a blind eye to the fact that there's different types of competition. There's different kinds of political environments and all that. But I think what we did see and it was more than just talk because these people, they weren't meeting us to sell us anything. But I think one of the major things that we as a takeaway for me at least was there's not an ignorance of inclusion. There's not an ignorance of employee culture.
Jim Marous: They've all realize that the only way to grow in the future is to be a little different than one of these other companies in the marketplace that are going after the same employees. As we wrap up here, David, what was your... of all the things that your takeaway and I know we were sitting up at night sometimes just going, "My God, I can't believe everything I saw." And I'm still processing some of the feelings. If there was one major takeaway, what was it from our visits Tencent?
Dave Wallace: I think for me it was the platforms looked very flexible and what that means is they can focus on getting data, using that data and actually developing great customer experiences, which resonate with an audience. I think, for me it was looking at the way they've built their businesses to really, really go after particular markets.
Jim Marous: Matt, from your perspective, I know you get to Shenzhen quite a bit. You're in Hong Kong, so you see a lot of this innovation. But I am sure that every one of these trips gives you an enlightenment into something that you just go, "God, I didn't catch that the last time or ever since I visited." What was your maybe aha moment during our visit?
Matt Dooley: I don't think there's... I learn something every visit. So yes, I do get that. The aha is really taking people and seeing them open up and understanding the context of what their aha moment was. Yes, I've seen a lot and I probably go to Shenzhen probably twice or three times a month now. But my aha moment was for this trip... was we went to have a massage, a spa, a foot massage after our meal. What we found was the establishment would not take Western credit cards. The great thing for me was I was able to sync my WeChat pay and my Alipay to MasterCard and to Visa. Then I could actually get into these ecosystems. The thing about China is, it is opening up but I think the greatest thing is the openness of each of the companies in allowing us to get access and the way that they told us their story, their vision, their strategy and where they're going.
Matt Dooley: Their job is not done. It is just keep moving and moving and moving. The other thing is when you visit other cities in China, whether it be Hangzhou, which is all about eCommerce or Chengdu, which is about security or when you... smart cities in Shanghai or where the regulators and autonomous cars are being built in Beijing, every ecosystem has different players. It's understanding which companies are actually shaping those ecosystems and what are the outputs. But I think the collaborative nature of China is really embedded in every company and the way that they work together. Both that they've got a word which is coopertition. It's really cooperating with your competitors because your better society and together you'll get the whole experience and it will make a difference for absolutely everyone and everyone will benefit. It's a win for the customer, a win for the companies and a win for the country.
Jim Marous: Matt, how do people get ahold of you if they possibly like to think about having an experience like ours?
Matt Dooley: Just get me at Matt, M-A-T-T at connected thinking a dot Asia. I also do and host a number of tours for the Asian banker. If you go to the Asianbanker.com, you'll see a lot of their... what we call a Financial Innovation Study Tours. Those tours... the next tour that we're doing is actually in South Korea. Again, a totally different ecosystem but in the world... the world of Samsung in Seoul, it'll all be about IoT and embedded technology again.
Jim Marous: Dave, how do people get ahold of you?
Dave Wallace: I've actually left HeathWallace, some between things. I'm just about to launch another business but at the moment if people want to get hold of me, LinkedIn or [email protected] is my address.
Jim Marous: Guys. This was like a reunion tour but remotely, I just want to thank you, Matt. Thank you for an amazing two days of tour of Shenzhen and the financial services, actually the financial capital of China to be able to see what is possible. I think that from my perspective, that was the eye opening experience. I tried to... and I do speaking engagements to immerse myself in the culture. I'm already trying to figure out how I get back because there's so much we learned but so many more questions I have as I look forward to this. Again, I want to I want to thank both of you for making this trip to China just an amazing personal and business experience. I'll be certainly referring to this trip in many of my writings and in many of my speakings going forward. Thanks a lot for being with us today.
Matt Dooley: Thank you.
Dave Wallace: Thank you.
Jim Marous: Hey guys, you killed it.
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