China Banking Research

Automated advisory platforms, or Robo-advisors, have shaken up the finance industry in many parts of the U.S. and Europe. China's wealth management industry is now the next in line to receive such a boost.

Last week, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) issued a new scheme for evaluating risk in online insurance. Aimed at providing consistent development of the industry and ensuring proper risk management, the scheme is focused on the business model and operations of internet insurance companies. Companies offering life insurance, financial insurance, and other insurance areas are all covered by the new supervisory scheme. The review will take place in three steps, carried out over the course of five months.

Although China’s newly issued April export/import data may be worrying on its face, when examined from a different angle, it may tell a more positive story.

In China this year, over 3,700 billion RMB (about 570 billion USD) worth of domestic debt will expire, a record-breaking amount. Many companies will face difficulty in rolling the debt over because of the limited size of the whole bond market. Even if just a small percentage of the whole market defaults, the amount defaulting would still be so large, it could start a crushing storm for an already vulnerable Chinese economy. Many defaulting state-owned companies are from sectors in difficulty as China slows, such as mining and heavy industry. This makes the possibility of default more likely to happen. And in the environment of a slowing debt market, things will probably get worse.

Shanghai Gold Exchange started trading a new gold contract on April 19th. The contract is meant to become a global benchmark similar to the gold fix originated in London and New York, but denominated in RMB.

What’s the golden rule for investment? Don’t lose money. China’s middle class are thinking the same, and people are looking to P2P platforms for ‘safe and high return investment’ until the recent successive P2P company crisis from Jinlu to Zhongjin which has become a nightmare for the families who invested everything on them - the future of P2P products is uncertain.

In early March Citibank announced that it would sell-off its 20% stake in China Guangfa Bank to China Life insurance for USD 3 billion, almost five times more than what the US bank paid for the stake in 2006.

With an estimated USD 1 trillion worth of capital outflows from Mainland China in 2015, it is clear that a subset of Chinese citizens would rather keep their money outside of China. Following the country’s turbulent stock market and depreciating Yuan, an estimated 100,000+ Mainland Chinese citizens have been venturing out to Hong Kong in order transfer more than the stipulated USD 50,000 outside of China through the means of insurance policies.

“I don’t really care about what are the investment projects on the P2P platform or the borrowers’ details. My attention is more on the investment return, since most of the platform provide guaranteed return rate.”

A recent announcement from China's central bank, the PBOC, now allows banks to remotely open bank accounts, which was previously not possible - there was at least a bank visit and some paperwork needed. The announcement allows customers to open new accounts via their mobile, which should increase competition significantly between the BAT and traditional banks. 

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