China's tech giants are increasingly focused on positioning themselves as technology providers rather than financial services providers. A recent 3-second blockchain remittance from Hong Kong to the Philippines, was supported by Alipay HK and Philippine's GCash, cleared by Standard Chartered. Caifu Hao, a wealth management platform launched by Ant Financial, opened their AI-functioned investment tools to fund companies. Tencent recently signed contracts with a few banks to provide a financial cloud structure for acquiring and managing growing clients.

June 25th 2018, Ant Financial launched its E-wallet cross-border remittance service based on blockchain technology. Customers using Alipay HK can transfer money in real time to another E-wallet Gcash based in the Philippines.

Ant Financial was valued at $150 billion recently, making it the biggest unicorn globally. As it completed its most recent $10 billion financing, the company has made it clear that Ant’s future is being a tech provider to the financial industry. 

On May 9th, a mini-app on WeChat called ‘Little Agreement’ showed up, providing an interface to create agreements on the Ethereum blockchain for Wechat Users. A few hours later, the mini-app was removed.

Cryptocurrency control in China seems to be getting stronger since the ban on September 4th, 2017. In a bid to further limit the use of crypto in China, the National Committee of Experts on Internet Financial Security Technology (IFCERT) is now monitoring 56 platforms that offer over the counter (OTC) cryptocurrency transactions.

The (Qingdao) Blockchain Research Company released a set of ratings for various blockchain projects on May 17th, 2018. The company is related to China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID), led by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), part of the national government, but it would be wrong to read that this is any sort of acceptance of crypto by the Chinese government.

Blockchain technology has become one of the most popular topics in China today as it moves beyond conversations in the tech industry to normal individuals in their everyday lives. It is easy to catch a conversation about ideas of blockchain at a restaurant, on a bus, or in a club from people excited about the investment opportunities of blockchain projects, or even just blockchain ideas.

On April 29th, the CSRC (China Security Regulatory Committee) officially released the Administrative Measures for Foreign-Invested Securities Companies.

China's banks have lost significant market share to fintech companies like Ant Finance and Tencent, especially in the mobile payment space, which the fintech companies have used as a basis to move into other market segments such as online lending. Banks have been distanced from consumers and there are concerns that people do not need banks any more. Are things really that bad?

On April 7th, 2018, Alibaba announced an investment of 4.5 billion RMB (7.1 bn USD) to Huitongda, showing the intention to develop business in the rural areas of China. They will cooperate on supply source, logistics, technology and life services.

On Feburary 22nd, the Credit Union, also known by its official name “Baihang Credit”, has finally received its business license from the government which is also the first individual credit checking license.

Blockchain technology's momentum has grown significantly in China and it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. Since Chinese New Year, frequent good news has accelerated this trend – The People’s Daily published a whole page talking about how to develop this technology, and it’s been a hot topic even in the ongoing “two sessions” National Party Congress.

The top three tech giants in China -  Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, previously did not talk much about their blockchain development, but with a much more receptive public and regulatory environment, they have revealed a bit more about where they have been focused.

China's recent outbound M&A has been suffering with more and more acquisitions failing due to national security concerns, Ant Financial's missed acquisition of MoneyGram being the latest. Why does national security factor into these decisions and why will it remain a crucial consideration in the future?

In 2017, the Chinese smartphone market saw its first ever decline, with -4% YoY growth in smartphone shipments and -4.9% YoY growth in smartphone sales.

China is on the verge of creating another uninviting barrier for the cryptocurrency market, however nothing has been set in stone yet. Xinhua, one of the main news outlets in China, released another elusive yet pressing statement on February 5, 2018 laying out some of the government's plans to further hinder Chinese citizens from accessing international cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs.

On February 1st, Alibaba and Ant Finance jointly announced that, according to their strategic agreement signed in 2014, Alibaba will acquire 33% of Ant Finance’s shares through one of Alibaba’s subsidiaries.

Bitcoin has grown rapidly in 2017 and its grabbed the attention of industry leaders and CEO’s, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. In January, Zuckerberg released a comment that indicated that Facebook will be looking to research and potentially adapt Blockchain technology.

In China, bar code payments (including QR codes) dominate the mobile payment market. Using a bar code to pay is easy, but comes with risks. In 2017, about RMB 90 million ($14 million) was stolen due to fraud. On December 25th, 2017, the People’s Bank of China (the PBOC) released new regulation to standardize bar code payments. The regulation will come into effect from April 1st, 2018.

XRP has become one of the most hyped cryptocurrencies, outperforming both Bitcoin and Ethereum last year. Much of the hype comes from XRP’s connection to its creator company Ripple Labs, but this link may not be as useful as many hope.

The recent hype around Bitcoin continues to bring uncertainty to the financial stability of countries. Whilst some countries are accepting Bitcoin others are rejecting it and the threats that they perceive it holds.

Evident concern on the volatility and the unforeseeable future of cryptocurrency exchanges have caused the South Korean government to take heightened steps to further inspect new crypto-trading accounts due to an “overheated market” and a number of money-laundering cases. The announcement of this act alone was followed by a downward spiral of 11% in Bitcoin's value.

China has long seemingly been opposed to all things crypto, having previously banned ICO’s and virtual currency trading. However, in the latest development of China’s war on crypto, it is now reportedly set to shut the Bitcoin mining industry.

Previously, WeChat has been the world's dominant chat & payment app with over 1 billion WeChat users worldwide, spread over 15 countries; 200 million of which use the app's payment function. Could WhatsApp's December 2017 release of a payment enabled WhatsApp app in India find similar success? 

On December 11th, 2017, China Union Pay (CUP), together with over 30 commercial banks and payment institutions, launched a new version of its mobile payment APP, QuickPass (云闪付), starting a new battle in the mobile payment industry.

China Telecom and China Mobile, two of China's leading telecommunication companies, were approached by the Chinese government under a proposition to enter the Philippines telecommunications market. 

With the craze surrounding Bitcoin, many are concerned that the crypotcurrency’s price is over valued and a result of too much hype. However, Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, is captivating the attention of many and is widely regarded as the future of technology. So much so in fact, many countries have already launched or begun looking into the possibility of creating their own Blockchain based, state sponsored cryptocurrencies.

With Bitcoin recently hitting an all- time high of $14,000 USD on December 7th 2017, many have been asking questions about whether the cryptocurrency’s price will continue to rise in the future or if it is simply a speculative bubble waiting to burst. The currency has risen by over $13,000 USD since the 1st of January 2017, a remarkable, and for some unfathomable surge considering it has no tangible assets or value at its core.

Since Chinese online micro lending companies Qudian and Paipai Dai have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the government has been closely following the development of the micro-credit industry. Scrutiny has fallen not only their business model but also on their high revenue, which specifically caught people’s eyes. The Ningbo Jinzhou Financial Office already shut down two micro lending institutions. On November 21, 2017, the General Office of the State Council issued an urgent notice on suspending approval on the establishment of internet small loan companies. With the arising attention around financial risks, could this be the end of the industry? 

Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay are set to link their national digital payment systems, thereby making it easier to send money between the two countries.

Two weeks after the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) national congress, the Chinese state council set up the Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC), as the institution to ensure the stability of the financial system and provide solutions for future development.

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