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Vested business interests a hurdle for new industries

By  : INDICS Operator Updated  :   2018-07-26 09:17:30

Source: China Daily

The demise of a bicycle-sharing startup in Hong Kong has driven home the message that not all innovative ideas that work in other economies can be applied to the local market.



Bicycles are never taken seriously by Hong Kong people as a mode of transport. Hardly anyone rides a bike to work or to school. In fact, it's downright dangerous to ride a bike in the city's narrow streets crowded with cars and trucks with highly impatient drivers behind the wheel.

Nobody was taken aback by the abrupt closure of Gobee.bike. It was doomed from the start because few people needed its services.

For the same reason, mobile payment services and internet banking also appear to have failed to catch on in Hong Kong despite their popularity in other cities. Even online shopping is spurned by many local consumers who have never found it a chore to shop for groceries and other daily necessities at supermarkets and stores in the neighborhood.

Of course, consumer habits can change. We're sure that an internet shop offering the kind of service that can match the convenience and reliability of Amazon's can and will do well.

It takes capital, lots of it, and time to build up that kind of trust in the minds of customers. Amazon had been burning cash for years before it turned profitable.

The Hong Kong government has deployed vast resources and manpower, but with limited success, in nurturing the new industry in an effort to diversify the economy from overdependence on finance and property. But, the small local market has failed to attract a large enough pool of venture capital essential to funding the growth of promising startups before they can be profitable.

And then, there're the vested interests in different businesses that are dead set against potential disruptions to the way they've been doing business. The case in point is the car-hailing service, particularly Uber.

Despite its initial popularity, the service has run into strong opposition from the politically powerful taxi owners who have successfully blocked any attempt to legalize Uber.

Such a chicken-and-egg situation, though refuted by the government, is holding back its efforts to promote the new industry.


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