Mobile internet penetration brings about 'awakening' in China, investor says

  • The desire for self-expression through the mobile internet is no longer just limited to China’s major cities, according to investor Richard Liu of Morningside Venture Capital.
  • Subscribers in the country’s so-called lower tier regions are demanding more from their mobile experience, he said at an investment conference in Hong Kong.
A woman uses an Apple iPhone inside a shopping mall in Beijing on January 3, 2019.
Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images
A woman uses an Apple iPhone inside a shopping mall in Beijing on January 3, 2019.

Chinese internet users are increasingly accessing the web on their mobile devices. As a result, even those in more rural areas in the country are going through a personal "awakening," according to one venture capital investor.

There are now between 800 to 900 million mobile internet subscribers in China, said Richard Liu, founding partner at Morningside Venture Capital, which invests in early-stage Chinese companies.

That's significant considering that there are nearly 1.4 billion people in China.

An increasing number of users are in China's so-called lower-tier cities, meaning smaller urban and even rural areas far away from the glitz and glam of massive urban centers such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

With more and more people accessing the internet with their mobile devices, the last five years have seen an accelerated growth in demand in lower-tier cities, Liu said, adding that he sees "awakening of self-expression."

"It's not like only tier one, tier two cities have demand for self-expression," he said during the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday. "In a remote village, those people (too) have a strong desire to express themselves."

And those living in the highly urban cities, as well as the more rural areas, all want to upgrade their user experiences, he said.

"This represents great opportunities in entertainment, e-commerce and service," Liu said. "There are tremendous opportunities there."