China Banking Research

Last week, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), who are collectively known in China as the “Yi Hang San Hui” (one central bank, three commissions), have issued four major implementation plans around Internet finance. The plans are aimed at reducing risk and further issues in the internet finance industry. Although the regulations will mean tighter controls around internet finance and fintech development in China, it should result in a more healthy environment for the industry in the future.

On October 14, HNA Usolv, a cross-border trade solutions provider under the brand of HNA Group, signed a cooperation agreement with CRIF, one of the leading European credit information companies.

On September 28th, the Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) (1658.HK) finally made its IPO debut in Hong Kong after a lot of speculation.

The Bank of Harbin was granted a license to set up its consumer finance company, Hayin, on September 19th. The bank owns 59% shares of Hayin’s equity with paid-in capital RMB295 million ($44 million). It is another consumer finance license which is issued by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) to a company that has a banking background. 

China's internet finance, or fintech, sector has had a busy couple of years as the industry has developed to be a critical part of the financial industry as a whole. Yet, the developments have been somewhat imbalanced. While areas like digital payments and asset management grew and matured, others like credit scoring fell behind. On September 9th, China's National Internet Finance Association (NIFA) finally launched their digital Credit Information Sharing platform, which really brings credit scoring into the fintech fold in China. 

Over the past few months Alibaba's 'Finance Cloud' has gained significant traction with an estimated 40+ banks subscribing to some, if not all, of the services available on the financial platform. Far from just a cloud platform, Ali Finance Cloud is the closest we have seen to 'Bank in the Cloud.'

In July, China released the second draft of its Cyber Security Law, just a year after the release of the first draft. On one hand, many of the key terms listed will have to be better defined before it is possible to draw definite conclusions about the implications of the Law. On the other, it is already clear that the Law makes it harder for foreign technology companies to conduct business in China, and this will likely be the case for financial institutions too. Specifically, the second draft does that by expanding and blurring the scope of the regulation, giving authorities broader access to information systems and raising data localization requirements.

Assessing SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) credit has always been a difficult problem for banks and other financial institutions because lack of credit rating and reporting platforms. Last week, Sesame Credit announced the launch of their own credit checking and rating system for SMEs. They named it “Ling’Zhi” - which means “smart sesame” in Chinese. This new system may be the start of solving the SME credit issue and open up new funding channels to SMEs themselves.

Fintech companies in China are raising investor eyebrows this year, with such firms breaking global fund raising records. Even as the amount of venture capital flowing into China has slowed from its peak in 2015, data compiled by KPMG Enterprise and CB Insights show investors are still bullish on the fintech industry.  The money invested into China’s fintech sector reached a record high of $2.4 billion in the first quarter of the year, the consultancy said. This amount was boosted by deals into two of China’s so-called tech unicorns:  Chinese P2P lender Lu.com and JD Finance.

Fintech in China started as 'internet finance' or 互联网金融. As the first real China fintech giants tended to come from internet finance platforms, like P2P lenders or financial distribution platforms, the name seemed to make sense, so the term 'fintech' was rarely used. However, today, we're seeing an interesting phenomenon in China as more firms are transforming their businesses to be more 'fintech focused', but what does that actually mean? Is fintech different than internet finance? And more importantly, why now?

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