China Mobile Payments: Apple + Union Pay = Convenience and Security

                                      by David Parmer

Mobile and contactless payments for Apple users in China just got a lot simpler thanks to a 2016  agreement between Apple Pay and Union Pay. Now these Apples users can add Union Pay cards to their Apple Pay on iPhones, iWatch and iPad. The keywords are secure and convenient. In combination, Apple Pay and Union Pay’s Quick Pass provide payment tokenization for secure transactions. Contactless readers add convenience by letting the user simply put the Apple device near the reader or click the iWatch to make the transaction. Union Pay operates the country’s clearing and settlement system and issues cards. Union Card has issued 5 billion cards to date and the card is accepted in more than 150 countries.

While the tie-up is excellent news for Apple, it does not have an exclusive in the China market. Union Pay recently announced that it had also made a tie-up with Samsung for mobile payments. Some observers say Apple has nothing to worry about since Samsung seems to be in decline in the China market.

Apple does have to worry about local big-boy Alibaba, whose Alipay service now holds a huge chunk of the mobile payments market. Local player Tencent is also in the game through its We Chat app.

This year might be a very big year for Apple in China. It will be interesting to see, in say 12 months, how the mobile payments pie is sliced up.

Photo: Shanghai Apple Store, DP.


Taiwan 2016: Election Results VS Results of the Election

                                   by David Parmer

As for the January 2016 Taiwan national elections, (presidential and legislative) what is interesting will not be the election results, but rather the results of the election. The election results seem pretty much a given: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen will win by a comfortable majority. Kuomintang (KMT) party Chair Eric Chu will finish a respectable second (which is why he was brought in to replace Hung Hsiu-chu, who was headed into the black hole of ignominious defeat, dragging the KMT with her) and People First Party’s James Soong will get the crumbs. Those will be the election results and should come as no surprise to anyone. The big question is what will be the results of the election?

Presumptive winner Tsai has said in effect that she won’t rock the boat regarding cross-strait ties. And that is good news as far as Washington and Beijing are concerned. Perhaps there will be some social legislation and domestic restructuring. The China Post reported on September 6, 2015 that the Tsai proposes using defense spending budget to promote local industries, and that she argues the government should do more for infrastructure projects to promote employment. Specifically this would include upgrading IT, green technology and industries related to people’s daily lives. In foreign policy Tsai is said to focus on Taiwan’s traditional ties with the USA, and might become friendlier with Japan.

Three real questions remain however:

1) How will Beijing react to a DPP victory in the presidential and legislative elections? Will there be “business as usual” as there has been with the KMT, or will there be a cooling down and heating up of cross strait ties?

2) Once the DPP was won, they will become “the establishment.” How will the student movement deal with the new administration? Will the DPP get a pass from the younger generation, or will it have to prove itself by actions?

3) What does the shift toward a “Taiwan Identity” mean? Reports suggest that many people see their identity as Taiwanese and not Chinese. How will 3) affect 1) and 2) above?

Please log in and give us your thoughts on the Taiwan elections 2016.

 Photo: DPP Facebook Page


70 Years Ago – Shanghai’s Refuge For European Jews

 Shanghai Former Jewish Ghetto (Photo: JN)

In September 1945 Shanghai was liberated and the nightmare of WWII ended for some 20,000 European Jews in the Shanghai Ghetto.

From 1938 onward Shanghai had been a haven for Jews escaping Nazi persecution and certain death in Europe. In 1938 the Nazis annexed Austria, and this started the flood of Jews out of Europe. Some were lucky to get to America or other democratic countries, but many had only one hope: to get to Shanghai. Diplomats like Japan’s Chiune Sugihara and China’s Ho Feng Shan issued transit visas to the Jews against the orders of their superiors.

 Once in Shanghai, the Jews had the support of the existing Jewish community, made of an earlier generation of Baghdadi Jews who had come to Shanghai decades before and done well in commerce. These included the Sassoon’s, Hardoons and Kadoories. Help for the refugees was also given by American Jewish organizations, although such aid was cut off after Pearl Harbor.

Jews who had a profession did the best in their new circumstances, and Shanghai was fortunate to get more than 100 European doctors. Others formed businesses and practiced what skills they had. Shanghai Jews also had a rich cultural life despite a lack of resources.

In 1943 the Jews were ordered to move to the “Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees” or what came to be known as the Shanghai Ghetto. From February 18, 1943 until September 3, 1945 Jews were required to live in a one square mile area of Hongkou. There they endured hunger, overcrowding and cold, but they survived. Reports state that the Jews got along well with their Chinese neighbors, and many wrote and spoke of the kindness of the Chinese.

 After 1945 the Jews dispersed, some to Europe, some to America, and some to Palestine. Some might say the fact that Shanghai was refuge to 20,000 people was indeed a lucky “accident” of history, while others might see it as evidence of the work of providence or a higher power. Whichever you choose to believe, it was indeed a welcome refuge from the storm that swept the world during World War II.

Ho Feng Shan: Chinese Official Who Saved Jews

Chiune Sugihara: Japanese Official Who Saved Jews