Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong & Taiwan) SEO and Internet Marketing

With broadband, mobile telephony and credit card access rates amongst the world’s highest, the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets would serve as primary growth engines for the future rise in international online expenditure. Both these traditional Chinese provinces represent a goldmine for offshore B2C internet retailers, who can effectively leverage on credit card security, economical online transactions, cheaper products and faster transaction processing and delivery times to drive overall e-commerce growth up to higher levels.

Quick Summary:

Number of internet users-Hong Kong & Taiwan (2006): 18.7 million 

Hong Kong broadband access (2004): 216.9 (per 1,000)

Taiwanese broadband access (2005): 60% or 600(per 1,000)

Most popular local Hong Kong search engine: http://www.hksrch.com

Most popular local Taiwanese site: http://www.wretch.cc

Credit card usage in Hong Kong (2005): 12.6 million 

Credit card penetration in Taiwan (latest 2003): 16.1%

Hong Kong e-commerce spend(latest 2004): US $ 1,415.3 million

Taiwanese B2C e-commerce spend (latest 2002): US $ 450 million

A thriving free market economy, Hong Kong has reverted back to Chinese rule on 1st July 1997. It is now a major international business and financial base, with international trade as its cornerstone, just like in the Taiwan Province of China, which is also fast becoming a prime hub for air and sea transport, banking, media, and telecommunications. Hong Kong and Taiwan’s GDP at current prices for 2006 stood at US $ 188.67 billion and US $ 355.47 billion respectively, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Database dated September 2006. 

The total number of combined internet users (in both Hong Kong and Taiwan) in 2006 was 18.7 million. The World Bank World-ICT Database estimated Hong Kong’s per capita internet usage in 2004 at 508 (per 1000), having increased by 82.7% since the year 2000.

According to latest FIND/Point Topic figures dated August 2005, Taiwan is the world’s tenth largest broadband market with 3.79 million lines, along with having the world’s fifth highest household broadband penetration rate at 60%. With regard to Taiwanese mobile phone access, Point Topic 2005 data also states that Taiwan has the world's highest mobile phone penetration rate, with more than one mobile phone number for every inhabitant. Hong Kong’s mobile phone penetration rates are also amongst Asia’s highest. The World Bank World-ICT data on Hong Kong states that in 2004, Hong Kong’s broadband access per capita was at 216.9 per 1,000 people, with Hong Kong’s mobile and fixed line subscribers (per 1,000) also being at 1,192 and 552 respectively. According to a 2006 Nielsen Media Research survey, there are about 5 million mobile phones in Hong Kong, representing 95 % of the core 15-59 age group. As of September 2006,Hong Kong’s PC penetration also stood at 87% with 66.9% of all household computers connected to the net.

Taiwan’s most popular search engines are http://www.hotrank.com.tw, http://taiwan.asiaco.com, http://www.greenworld.com.tw, http://gais.cs.ccu.edu.tw, http://www.google.com.tw, http://tw.yahoo.com, and http://www.yam.org.tw/en/yam. Similarly, Hong Kong’s top search engines are http://www.hksrch.com (Timway), http://www.netvigator.com, http://hk.yahoo.com, http://www.google.com.hk, and http://search.msn.com.hk. 

According to MasterCard International's 2005 report, during the first nine months of 2004, the Taiwanese spent around US $35 billion on credit-card payments, accounting for 21.73% of overall consumption expenditures. This represented an increase in comparison to the full-year ratio of 19.12% in 2003. Taiwan's credit card penetration ratio was also 16.1% in 2003, according to Visa International. As of October 2004, more than 42.95 million credit cards were in circulation in Taiwan, showing an annual growth rate of 13.5%. With each Taiwanese adult having more than four credit cards on an average, Taiwanese financial institutions have been faced with higher operation costs in launching new cards. 

According to a Datamonitor December 2005 report, there were also approximately 12.6 million credit cards in Hong Kong in 2004, with the total value of transactions standing at HK $ 219.4 billion (US $ 28.1 billion)for the same year, and expected to rise to HK $ 272.6 billion by 2009 (approx.US $ 34.9 billion). The Visa International report also states that by the first quarter of 2004, around 71% of all Hong Kong credit card accounts were that of Visa.

According to http://back.cpc.gov.tw, in 2002, on-line B2C retail e-commerce in Taiwan reached US $450 million, a growth of 77% over 2001 estimates, and amounting to 0.5% of the retail market. 49% of Taiwan’s consumers had purchased products or services on-line, with up to 36% having engaged in on-line transactions more than twice, furnishing ample evidence of the great growth potential for Taiwan’s on-line consumer market. A report by ‘The Institute for Information Industry’s' E-Commerce Resource Center also showed that Taiwanese B2B e-commerce revenues would reach NT $ 7.39 trillion (US $246.31 billion) in 2004, a 50% increase from the corresponding NT $ 4.94 trillion ( US $164.65 billion) in 2003, and expected to reach NT $10.66 trillion (US $355.3 billion) in 2008.

Hong Kong’s total e-commerce business receipts for 2004 also stood at HK 11,057 million (US $1,415.3 million), having dipped slightly over 2003 estimates of HK $12,185 million ( US $ 1,559.7 million), according to http://www.tdctrade.comestimates. An AC Nielsen 2005 survey also indicated that the favorite items or services for Hong Kong B2C online shoppers were books (35%), event tickets (23%), tours/hotels reservations (19%) and airline/tickets reservations (16%), with the majority of Hong Kong online shoppers having used credit cards to settle online payments.

Thus, with very high broadband, mobile phone and credit card penetration rates, the future of offshore internet retailing in both Taiwan and Hong Kong remains extremely promising, with these offshore e-tailers assuring optimal credit card payment security, good product variety, discounted prices, and hassle-free quicker transactions.

Reference Sources/Further Readings:

1. IMF World Economic Outlook Database

2. The World Bank Group- World Development Indicators Database, April 2006

3. http://www.cia.gov - The World Factbook

4. http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com

5. http://www.internetworldstats.com

6. http://www.bcrotaiwan.org

7. FIND (Foreseeing Innovative New Digiservices) / Point Topic, Taiwan

8. http://www.minirank.com

9. Hong Kong Credit Card Report-August 2004, Visa International

10. Nielsen Media Research, 2006

11. MasterCard International, 2005 Report

12. https://back.cpc.gov.tw

13. ‘The Institute for Information Industry’s' E-Commerce Resource Center, Taiwan, 2004 Report

14. http://www.tdctrade.com