Nearly done with banking and capital markets, China shifts its focus to opening up the insurance industry

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You would be forgiven for missing the news with most of the focus this week on Shanghai's never ending stock market run or the latest mention of liberialization and opening in the bank card clearing market, but now it appears that the insurance industry will be the next segment of China's transforming financial industry to be opened up to competition.

Although it may not get as much coverage in the press as banking or capital markets, China's insurance industry has arisen from basically nothing two decades ago to being a significant industry on its own. Up until this point though, foreign firms had been limited as to what they could do in the market. Similar to the banking industry in the early 2000s and the bank card industry today, foreign firms were limited geographically and by product in terms of the businesses that they could get involved with. This now appears to be changing.

What this means in practice will remain to be seen. The opening up of the bank card clearing industry has been talked about for multiple years, but we are only seeing movement forward on that today and it's not even clear what will actually be allowed and when.

Still, the move represents a small step forward in a continuing agenda of reform in Beijing. 

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