With over 270 million active Alipay Wallet users and extensive collaborations with overseas global online merchants, Chinese e-commerce payment powerhouse Alipay now is making its expansion into China’s domestic offline stores and soon to the global market.

The shares of three companies recently experienced an unprecedented slump, which nobody can precisely explain.

At a recent conference, the Asset Management of China (AMAC) declared that there are 713 hedge funds in Zhejiang province alone – a surprisingly large number, considering some of the statements by international experts as recent as 2014 that there are no more than ten hedge funds in China. Futures trading is also up 30% on the main exchanges in China - a strong correlation. 

Xiaomi teamed up with E Fund Management to offer a new money market fund last week. The fund will be available on the wealth management app installed on the Xiaomi operating system and will be similar to products offered by Alibaba and Tencent in that it offers higher-than traditional bank deposit rates and allows nearly instant liquidity.

A new partnership between CreditEase and Wellington has changed the rules with an incredibly easy way for the increasingly wealthy middle-class to invest abroad. 

Globally there have been few examples, if any, of traditional financial institutions getting full use of customer big data to provide a mass-market asset management product. There are of course specialized hedgefunds and wealth management products that track market sentiment, but few beyond that. In China however, Internet giant Baidu and now, more recently, E-commerce tycoon Alibaba group are both changing the fintech landscape by how they are leveraging big data to bring new products to market. 

According to data from the People's Bank of China, by the end of 2014 China had 614,900 ATMs in operation across the country, up 18.25% from 2013. While certainly a rapid growth, it was actually slower than a year ago when the number of networked ATMs increased by 25.12%, and is significantly lower than its peak growth of 36.18% in 2008.

P2P woes continue in China as illegal fundraising through P2P platforms grew in both 2014 and 2015. When will the government intervene?

Accenture recently released its Accenture North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey for 2015. One of the findings was that banks run the risk of being seen as a 'utility' to their customers. Could the same thing happen in China?

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.

It appears, as the WSJ reported, that the implementation of China's controversial banking technology rules has been paused for the moment. But what can we expect in the future?

China's P2P industry, which is technically a shadow banking / lending channel, continued its explosive growth in 2014 as 1,200 new platforms launched and transaction volumes grew 2.39 times as compared to 2013. At the same time the number of platforms suffering serious problems was 275, up 260% from the year before.

Chinese investors continue to join the market rally at an unprecedented pace. Records were broken as 1.6 million accounts were opened from March 23rd and March 27th and only slightly less in the following week – 1.5 million...more than the population of a small city..., well a small city outside of China.

Talked about for many years, one of the key reforms in China's outsized and ambitious plan is the launch of the deposit insurance program. An announcement yesterday confirmed that the program will finally launch in May.

Shanghai based Lufax, one of China’s biggest P2P platforms, has just received a USD 483 million-worth investment from foreign institutional and private investors. Is the investment rearranging deck-chairs on a sinking ship or a clear signal that everything is fine in the troubled P2P industry?

As China's bull market continues, new accounts are being opened and trading volume is growing. One unexpected outcome is that existing capital markets technology is being stress tested and it doesn't seem to be coping that well...

Alipay has already gotten into transport cards, bill payments and hospitals in China, now it's focused on public services again with local government partnerships.

With the Taiwan - Singapore now on track for year end, we are seeing a tremendous uptick in cross-border trading efforts, but instead of M&A, exchanges are focusing on trading links

A few days ago, the upstart Chinese manufacturer of android-based smartphones Xiaomi launched a public beta of their new online money-market fund. With Chinese tech companies furiously investing in and creating platforms bundling key products and services together, could we see Xiaomi competing directly with Alipay and Wechat in the near future?

Rumors abound that Apple has finally reached an agreement with China UnionPay and is rolling out the China version of Apple Pay in April. According to a Bank of China-related Weibo post, April 15th is the day of official announcement and April 28th will be launch day. The timing is close to what was expected, even though there were reports that negotiations were going less smoothly than predicted.

So over the past week, the internet has been aflutter with talk of Bitcoin and China again. A March 10th Goldman equity research note entitled 'The Future of Finance' offered a few comments about Bitcoin in China seem to have reignited the debate about Bitcoin's place in the Middle Kingdom. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, we felt we needed to set a few of them straight.

News is that the China International Payment System (CIPS) is ready and selected 20 banks are about to start testing, among which seven are subsidiaries of foreign banks. The new system was developed by PBoC and aims to be a significant improvement on the current way companies make cross-border RMB payments.

Recently CUP announced a cooperation with some of Shanghai’s well-known hospitals to launch an app, where users will be able to perform many of administrative hospital visit procedures on the mobile. This is the first step of CUP’s Modern Hospital plan, aimed to connect major hospitals to its payment solution.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) released its annual banking industry statistics for 2014. Banks accumulated RMB 172.3 trillion in assets, up 13.87% since 2013. The Big 5 large commercial banks had a slower growth rate than the joint-stock commercial banks, 8.25% and 16.50% respectively.

There are now 18 million shoppers in China who buy goods from international platforms and have already spent RMB 216 billion doing so, according to Nielsen. The market is constantly growing, boosted by a more affluent middle class and government support. In our Top 10 China Banking Technology Trends report we talk about how China UnionPay extended its cross-border payments expertise to the ecommerce and joined the industry with its Haigou service in 2014. A new entrant to the cross-border e-commerce market is SF Express. SF is one of China's major logistics and delivery companies and relies on an entirely different set of strengths to develop thier business.

The recent PBOC annual Payments Industry Overview report shows plenty of impressive data and the main message that comes through is that "everything is growing". However, not all growth is the same and the numbers for credit cards industry are especially interesting.

February 18 2015

Happy New Year from Kapronasia!

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Happy year of the Ram from the entire team at Kapronasia!

We'll be taking a few days off, but will be back in the office next week. 

One of the latest ads from Huawei, the large Chinese manufacturer of networking equipment, is a rather disturbing wrapped up ballerina's foot. While the idea is good, the advertisement shows that there's still a gap in understanding between tech and the consumer. 

China’s capital markets are maturing. Futures and margin trading had already been launched, but this week we saw equity options for the first time in China. The new derivatives trading commenced with big fanfare, with main regulators as well as top government officials present at the opening ceremony, emphasizing the importance of the event.

2014 was a good year to be a bank in China, but apparently an even better one to be a brokerage. The latest data from the Securities Association of China shows that 2014 total income for the industry was 260.3 billion RMB (Chinese Yuan), up 63% from 2013.

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