A Conversation with Steven Chan

Early this year, with the support of PayPal, AmCham launched the virtual Center of Excellence for Small Business (now renamed to AmCham Launchpad: the SMEs & Startup Navigator) to provide resources and business intelligence for innovative small businesses, as well as offer a platform for SMEs and startups to access the Chamber’s wide network of MNCs and develop commercial partnerships. Last month, we sat down with Steven Chan, Asia-Pacific Head, Government Relations at PayPal who shared with us the background of the AmCham Launchpad and his vision in nurturing Hong Kong’s small business ecosystem.

Using collaborative approaches to enable innovation and impact the entire e-commerce ecosystem, we look forward to building a new digital economy that is fundamentally more inclusive for people and businesses around the world.

– Steven Chan, Asia-Pacific Head, Government Relations at PayPal

Where did the idea for the Launchpad come from? 

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a critical role in the global economy by creating jobs, contributing to production and exports, and growing a stronger middle class. However, they also face many challenges and we wanted to create a platform to help them access up-to-date information and resources on business intelligence and trends; share good practices; and expand their network. The Launchpad is a place to help small businesses to thrive and excel.

How did PayPal get involved? Why did you decide to collaborate with AmCham on this project?

PayPal is an active member of AmCham and we believe that strengthening the resiliency of small businesses is critical to economic recovery. Recognizing that AmCham is the largest international chamber in Hong Kong and one of the most influential international business organizations in the region, we jumped at the opportunity for deeper collaboration on such an important initiative. There are exciting programs planned to not only address the needs and pain points of SMEs but also help them identify opportunities for scale and growth.

What are PayPal’s goals for the Launchpad?

The economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic have exacerbated some of the challenges that small businesses face when it comes to digital transformation. We hope that the Launchpad will raise the awareness and adoption of digitalization and provide the necessary tools to help small businesses in the form of training and upskilling, connectivity with knowledge networks, and leveraging fintech and new technologies for growth.

What are PayPal’s views on Hong Kong’s small business ecosystem?

SMEs are critical to broad-based, inclusive growth and recovery in economies around the world. There are over 340,000 SMEs in Hong Kong, accounting for more than 98% of the total number of enterprises and provided employment to 45% of workforce in the private sector. SMEs hence play an irreplaceable role in the local economy.

Last September, PayPal Hong Kong surveyed our merchants and found that over 45% sought new customers in new markets and 48% were looking for new channels to sell their products. The acceleration of e-commerce and the digital economy in recent months is fueling growth for Hong Kong SMEs and this provides opportunities for global reach.

What are some of its defining characteristics? Strengths and weaknesses?

SMEs in general face greater structural barriers especially around digital adoption such as gaps in skills, finance and infrastructure. These gaps have limited their ability to scale quickly. Hong Kong’s advantage as an international finance, trading and logistics hub provides a favorable environment enabling small businesses to move across borders and enter global markets. Business groups such as AmCham can help to create the right environment for SME’s transformation.

Is PayPal particularly focused on the growth of any sector or type(s) of small business within Hong Kong?

PayPal is committed to democratizing financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the digital economy, and one of our major points of focus is the digitization of SMEs.

We are committed to bringing the right innovations and resources to Hong Kong to enable faster, easier, and more reliable business transactions, and delivering a high level of security and protection to consumers and businesses. We are focused on empowering Hong Kong SMEs and providing them with access to the necessary tools and resources for growth and scale. Coordination and collaboration are keys to supporting this vital segment of Hong Kong’s business. We will continue working closely with industry and government partners to help SMEs thrive and emerge stronger from this crisis.

What’s the larger significance of Hong Kong small businesses to PayPal’s Asia-Pacific strategy?

In Hong Kong, many small businesses are playing a role of supplier to other markets in Asia Pacific and globally, or are resellers moving products between markets. Enabling the smooth interconnectivity between merchants and customers through providing seamless payment solution across multiple markets is the foundation of our business.

With our strong global network of nearly 400 million users in over 200 markets, we are dedicated to reaching out to and helping SMEs in Hong Kong grow their businesses by enabling them to participate in the digital marketplace and capture new opportunities across the globe.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about PayPal and small businesses in Hong Kong?

Among the many changes across the world in the past year, the acceleration of digital commerce and digital payments have been most profound. Digitalization is not about disruption, but about creating shared opportunities for companies and people to participate in, and benefit from, the safe and efficient movement of goods, services and money.

The greatest opportunity for value creation and impact comes through partnership.

We believe that the new model of customer-centric partnership can further improve the commerce experience and push the global economy further into the digital age. Using collaborative approaches to enable innovation and impact the entire e-commerce ecosystem, we look forward to building a new digital economy that is fundamentally more inclusive for people and businesses around the world.

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