Event management software providers keen to go big in China? Consider mobile payment solutions

Event management expert Roy Ying opines that a committed partnership with Chinese mobile payment providers will allow global event management software providers to go farther in supporting events aimed at mainland delegates

It is known that event registration is very labour intensive and time consuming, and for most event managers it is the one function of event management that they would want to outsource or automate.

Global event management software providers such as Cvent, SignUpGenius, Event Espresso etc. are all considered giants in their field when it comes to events happening outside of China, or events that may not target Chinese Mainland attendees.

Mobile payment platforms are important if an event organiser wants to attract Mainland Chinese attendees

But for events that do want the attention of Chinese Mainlanders, event management software must incorporate mobile payment platforms such as Wechat or Alipay.

According to a survey conducted by Ipsos in 2017, about 77 per cent of Chinese people use mobile payment services.

Statistics from the Payment and Clearing Association of China show that from 2013 to 2016, the number of transactions made through non-banking mobile apps increased from 3.7 billion to more than 97 billion.

In Hong Kong, where mobile payment’s penetration rate isn’t as high as that in China, these global event management software giants still have a competitive edge.

However, with more and more events in Hong Kong targeting attendees from the mainland, integration of event management software with Wechat or Alipay is now the bare minimum requirement for organisers to capture sponsors and attendees.

The global event management software market was valued at US$6.89 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach a value of US$12.51 billion by 2023, with much of the growth coming from China.

So why aren’t event management software providers flocking to form partnerships with Tencent or Alibaba? Perhaps it has something to do with their level of commitment in offering tailor-made solutions to Chinese clients. Most global firms value China as a market. Some may even have ambitious development plans for capturing the expected handsome growth in China’s business events sector.

However, the typical headquarter mindset is to bring as much revenue back from China as possible, while the correct approach is to show commitment to the Chinese market by investing capital, forming joint ventures, and going through the trouble of getting all the necessary licenses to not only accept the Chinese yuan but also the privilege to transfer funds across the border.

It is a lot more work and the process can be painful, but the reward can very handsome.


With over 20 years of regional event management experience in Asia, Roy Ying has held senior marketing communication roles in listed companies and organisations such as a trade & invest promotion agency, a chamber of commerce, and a professional institution. In addition to his current role as the senior corporate communications manager for a major blue chip company in Hong Kong, Ying is also a blogger, part-time lecturer and a contributing author to MICE magazines.

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