(Yicai Global) Nov. 10 -- Southeast Asia has long been a favorite overseas market for Chinese tech companies, and along with Silicon Valley it has been a popular choice among Chinese investors. A veteran investor in the region says it is probably best to focus on online gaming and entertainment businesses.
According to Qiu Jiamu, a parter at Gobi, one of the first Chinese venture capitalist firms in SE Asia, China's population is aging at an alarming rate, while SE Asia's consumers are younger and more active than their Chinese counterparts.
"Chinese capital may become the 'game changer' for local industries," he told Yicai Global.
The business climate in Indonesia today is very similar to what it was in China a decade ago, making it a suitable destination for Chinese firms expanding overseas, according to Adrian Li, managing partner at Juhe Asset Management, a VC firm specializing in that market. Internet penetration in Indonesia is 35 percent. Market research agency eMarketer estimates that the total number of Indonesian monthly active smartphone users will exceed 100 million by 2018.
Qiu believes mobile apps and devices are the key 'weathervanes' for Chinese companies entering SE Asian markets, and they are excellent pacesetters in the Chinese creative and manufacturing industries. The bestselling smartphones in Southeast Asia today are all Chinese brands.
Investments in the region are 80 percent, or even 90 percent, lower than in mainland China, according to Li.
Two eminent Chinese internet companies, Ant Financial Services Group and Mobike, a bicycle-sharing startup, have announced plans to expand business operations in Southeast Asia. The former will copy the 'Alipay' model into the Thai market, hoping to cover over 50 percent of internet users in the country in five years. Mobike plans to enter the Singaporean market in 2017.