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Opening a completely private commercial bank with no government ownership is not a suitable choice in every country. In some countries, like the US, private commercial banks play an important role in their economy and provide loans to small and medium enterprises. However, in Indonesia, the government allowed private commercial banks in the 1980s and it turned out to be a failure. Founders used the banks as a tool to collect money, and invested in real estate in order to profit, at the cost of a serious economic bubble.

QR-codes have been a boon for China's 3rd Party Payment providers, but due to QR-Code standardization and the launch of China's Online Settlement Platform for Non-Bank Payment Institutions, more colloquially known just as Wanglian, QR-codes could now be the payment giants' biggest challenge.

China Fintech has been developing rapidly. According to an EY report, in 2016, China's fintech industry attracted US$8.58 billion in investment, the highest in the world. However, while the UK's fintech regulatory sandbox became a case-study for governments globally including Singapore and Australia, there is still a big blank in China. For example, China's P2P industry developed without any regulation since it started in 2007. The government only started monitoring the industry in 2016, after serious criminal cases which caused social panic happened.

Recently, there has been a rise in Chinese internet giants investing or collaborating with banks. This year alone, some of China’s largest internet companies – Baidu, Ant Financial, Jingdong Finance, and Tencent – formed strategic partnerships with some of China’s biggest banks. All these companies, while being competitors, have risen to be at the forefront of the FinTech movement in China in recent years. Therefore, collaborating and partnering with these powerful banks give the companies a head-start in this developing market.

Asia is the heart of the rapidly growing FinTech movement. Singapore is one of the countries in the region vying for the top spot as Asia’s FinTech hub. With Singapore constantly getting closer to being the industry’s hub in Asia, it is not surprising that there is competition from other regions within Asia – particularly Hong Kong.

While no official steps have yet been taken, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in Beijing has raised the possibility of a regulatory sandbox environment for future ICOs as the government works through its options for potential regulations, focusing on providing a legal framework for Initial Coin Offerings in China (ICOs) moving forward. In addition, options such as investor education, project review, and increased information disclosure have been mentioned as targets for a new framework. The PBOC’s previous emphasis on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols are also expected to continue with ICO regulations. Other potential regulatory possibilities include requiring companies to have a working product before their ICO, requiring more information disclosure including risk and investor assessments, and reducing speculative investments.

10 Jul 2017

Why Asia matters for ICOs

Written by

In the second of our ICO series, we look at the role that Asia plays in Initial Coin Offerings.

03 Jul 2017

A brief on ICOs

Written by

Over the past few weeks, little-known ICOs have grabbed the media's attention. ICOs, or 'Initial Coin Offerings', have become a new way for individuals and start-ups to obtain funding. A significant number of these ICOs are originating from China, so we decided to take a look at the dynamics behind these new funding vehicles. 

MSCI, the influential provider of stock market indexes, has made the long-awaited decision to add Mainland Chinese A shares to its emerging markets index. 222 stocks from the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges will be added to the index. These 222 shares will represent just 0.7% of the emerging markets index, which is tracked by and estimated $1.6 trillion in funds.

Hike messenger, a popular phone messaging service app in India, has recently decided to introduce payment services on its platform. 

Government reforms have had contrasting effect on the securitization and corporate debt markets in India. Significant issues such as the high level of bad loans at public sector banks, bankruptcy laws which were not conducive to recovery of non-performing assets (NPAs), securitization of debt and the need to boost the corporate debt market, go hand in hand in India.

Historically speaking, it has been very difficult for Chinese investors and institutions to invest their money overseas. The Chinese government has several reasons for tightly regulating capital outflows, the most important of which is controlling the value of the yuan. However, as a continuation of China’s broad plan to become more integrated into the globalized economy, the government has been encouraging cross-border investment through programs that allow Chinese investors to invest overseas, and programs that allow foreign institutions to invest in the mainland.

As China's FinTech industry, led by Tencent and Alibaba, has exploded in recent years, regulators have been watching the industry’s growth carefully, in order to manage risk and protect consumers while still encouraging growth and innovation. In May 2017, The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank and main regulator, announced the creation of a FinTech committee under the PBOC’s Technology Department to research the impact of the sector on financial markets and China’s monetary policy. In addition, the committee will also act as a coordinating body for the PBOC, as well as research and promote the implementation of regulatory technology (RegTech).

Qupital LogoThere is a large financing gap in the Hong Kong market, particularly for SMEs who have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of available financing. Thus, it was not a shock when Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate – invested $2 million into Qupital, a Hong Kong based online platform that allows mainly SMEs raise finance against their receivables by connecting them with professional investors and family offices.

There is a big blank space on individual credit scoring in China. The national individual credit reporting system was founded in 2005 by the Credit Reference Center, a part of the People's Bank of China (PBOC). But at the end of 2015, only 870 million individuals were included in the database, and only 370 million people’ credit history was in the system, covering just 26% of the whole population. On Jan 5th 2015, the Chinese government authorized 8 companies to prepare their own personal credit scoring platforms. One of them, Sesame Credit, is owned by Ant Finance and is the largest platform, but remains unlicensed.

Yu’E Bao, the world’s largest money-market fund, may have to limit its individual investment amount at RMB500,000 (USD$72464), which is half of the amount the limit is now. The implications aren't for certain at this point, but it could mean the end of the platform's growth in the future. 

On the last day of March 2017, Wang’lian (Internet Payment Union) started its trial operation after one year of preparation. The first group of companies that have joined the platform include: Wechat Pay, China Merchants Bank, Bank of China, and Chinabank Payment. The platform will effectively cut the 3rd party payment networks of Ant Financial and Tencent, and is likely the most important payment industry development this year, and it may not bode well for China's dominant digital payment companies. 

As the Indian economy grows rapidly, there is an opportunity to bring ever larger number of Indians into the banking mainstream through both public and private banks.

A press announcement on April 10th 2017 showed that Tencent, a Chinese online giant, led an investment in India’s electronic commerce company Flipkart, alongside eBay and Microsoft. The total amount was $1.4 billion and Tencent contributed $700 million, eBay $500 million and Microsoft $200 million. This was the first investment for Tencent into India’s e-commerce market. But the question remains, will it be a good move for the company?

The Chinese bond markets are becoming more accessible through regulatory initiatives and greater foreign investor participation.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is the oldest stock exchange in Asia, having been founded in 1875. However, in recent years, it has become the number two equity exchange in India, after the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

The uncertainty over H1B visas in the US is taking a toll on Indian IT firms, most of which have heavy exposure to the US market in terms of both revenues and headcount.

Last week, at The Fifth Session of the twelfth National People's Congress in China, Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan, the chief governor of People’s Bank of China (PBOC), encouraged the development of Fintech during the press conference among all topics about finance reform and development in China.

In the last year, Panda bonds (the name of mainland RMB denominated bonds from a non-domestic issuer) have become increasingly competitive and attractive for investors. What explains the increased usage of inland bonds in contrast to slightly diminishing performance of the Dim Sum (RMB denominated bond issued abroad)? How do we define the current interrelationship of the two. And what is in store for the future of the Chinese bond market?

Nothing is easy in the banking industry, and it's getting tougher in China. The Chinese central bank (PBOC) used to control banks’ lending and deposit interest rate by setting high and low limits, as the top line and bottom line in the chart. If a bank in China can always lend/borrow at the limit rates, the margin would not change much over the years. However, the story is not that simple.

In its recent mobile app update, Alipay has put its QR code for accepting payments away from the main screen to a separate button on the top right corner. This seemingly small technical change has operational and business implications too.

Over the past year, China's Consumer Finance industry has been attracting a significant amount of attention. It may be the next hot spot for financial development in China.

Following more stringent regulation on hydrocarbon emissions and new economic stimulus, 2016 has been characterized by a notable shift in the Chinese commodities market from extraction to processing. The new trend can be seen in rising indices of oil refineries, steel, aluminium and copper in tandem with a cut of supply of crude and coal. This phenomenon will have far reaching implications for construction companies, tech firms, China’s commodity exchanges and the macro economy as a whole in 2017.

The regulatory culture in the Asia-Pacific region shows a preference for incremental change being initiated in the markets by the regulators, as opposed to big bang measures. The manner in which the mainland Chinese markets have been slowly liberalized has been discussed in an earlier commentary. In this one, we look at the some of the upcoming changes being proposed in India and how they fit into the overall approach of the capital market regulator in the country.

The new US President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to roll back, and possibly repeal, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. This will have wide-reaching repercussions for Asia.

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