The number of Chinese people who access the Internet via their smartphones is soaring and many of them are using those phones to trade stock.
About 56.28 million Chinese stock or fund investors who used the Internet to trade during the first half of 2015, a 47.4% increase from the end of 2014, according to a report published by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Thursday.
Even more surprising was that the number who traded via mobile devices grew 89.8% over the past six months to hit 36.95 million.
Correction or no correction in the stock market, these numbers are huge. Of course, this tracks the huge overall rise in Internet usage throughout China.
The number of Internet users in China rose to 668 million by the end of June, an increase of 2.91%, or 18.94 million, from the end of 2014. This gives an Internet penetration rate across the Chinese mainland of 48.8%, said the report.
Out of that total, 88.9% of those people are using smartphones to go online, up from 85.8% last year.
While many of these mobile stock traders were likely bloodied by the recent plunge in stock prices, online stock trading is a cultural phenomenon that is here to stay and only going to get bigger.
In fact, Asia Unhedged expects to see a similar jump mirrored in other sectors, such as the online use of consumer and commercial banking.
Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that smartphones have proven themselves to be the ultimate gateway for Chinese Internet users. Most probably don’t own a computer or have Internet access in their homes, so this is most likely their only way to connect to the Internet.
This was reflected in the report. The Beijing-based CNNIC said that the proportion of those who go online via personal computers or tablets had fallen by the end of June. Only 68.4% of Chinese netizens accessed the Internet via desktop, and just 42.5% used laptops.
Meanwhile, tablets ranked the lowest, with just 33.7% of netizens using the mobile device to surf the Internet. The CNNIC attributed this to the growing size of the smartphone screens, which it said would make smartphones the top device for Internet users.