Small companies in Hong Kong, China rank top of the class in using technology to achieve growth, CPA survey finds

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 11:15pm

Hong Kong and mainland China’s small business operators are more willing to invest and make use of technologies in their operations than Singapore and Australia, a strategy that helps them to achieve better growth, according to a survey of CPA Australia. 

Mainland Chinese SMEs ranked top with 84 per cent of respondents saying they earned more than 10 per cent of their revenue from digital payment. Vietnam ranked second at 62 per cent while Hong Kong ranked third at 55 per cent, according to the CPA Australia’s ninth annual Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey.

This is compared with 49 per cent in Indonesia, 39 per cent per in Malaysia, 36 per cent in Singapore, and 33 per cent in Australia and New Zealand. 

The findings are the result of a survey conducted in October and November last year on about 3,000 small business operators in Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

China and Hong Kong also ranked high in terms of using social media for business purposes with 95 per cent of mainland SMEs active users, ranking second highest among the eight markets. Vietnam ranked No 1 with 98 per cent. Hong Kong ranked fourth with 91 per cent using social media to do business, trailing Indonesia at 92 per cent. 

“Out of 310 respondents from Hong Kong, 54 per cent earned more than 10 per cent of their revenue online in the past 12 months and 55 per cent generated more than 10 per cent of their sales from new payment technologies such as PayPal, Apple Pay, WeChatPay and Alipay,” said Janssen Chan, chairperson of CPA Australia’s Hong Kong SME Committee on Tuesday.

Chan said these technologies help the Hong Kong SMEs to cut down space of their offices so as to save on rents, while the usage of online sales and social media payment platforms will help to expand their customers base.  

“One of the major reasons that Hong Kong’s small businesses are doing much better than competitors from other developed economies is their greater willingness to embrace digital technologies and fintech. The pickup in growth in the mainland economy and recent policy initiatives by the government should provide further fillip to this critical sector of the economy,” Chan said. 

“Given that 48 per cent of respondents stated that their investment in technology in 2017 has already boosted their profitability, it is easy to see why so many of Hong Kong’s small businesses are choosing technology solutions to help them grow their business.” 

Hong Kong however ranked fifth in terms of reporting profit growth after investing in technology. Indonesia ranked top with 85 per cent of SMEs saying their profit rose due to their technology usage. Vietnam ranked second with 77 per cent while China ranked third at 74 per cent. Malaysia ranked fourth at 51 per cent, while Singapore was at 36 per cent, and Australia and New Zealand both came in at 27 per cent.

Chan said the Hong Kong government’s recent budget announcement to promote technology through a package of tax cuts would help SMEs to further their use of technology in the coming year.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his budget speech in February that the government would have a super tax deduction for eligible research and development expenditure, which should enhance the innovative culture of many businesses in Hong Kong. The budget also proposed a cut in the profits tax rate to 8.25 per cent for the first HK$2 million (US$ 254,967) in profits earned by SMEs.

Technologies would help Hong Kong SMEs to cope with the challenges of high rent and staff costs, Chan said. 

 “Technologies such as online sales can reduce the need for office space and having to be in high rent locations. Digital technologies and increasing automation can also free up staff to work on higher value-added activities,” he said.

As Hong Kong SMEs has increased their use technology, he said they should beware of the risks of cyberattacks.

“We would also suggest small businesses take a cautious attitude towards the acceptance of cryptocurrencies in payments,” he said.