Asia Financial Industry Blog

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.

Personal credit ratings in China have never been a pretty subject. Without a centralized credit database accessible to all, getting accurate credit information has proved challenging for any company in China providing loan products. With Ant Financial, the financial arm of Alibaba, launching Sesame Credit, we felt it was worth taking a second look at what might be happening here. 

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has plans to launch a FTSE China A50 Index Futures option product if / when it is approved by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). While the new product name can be confusing for those who don’t follow Asian stock and derivatives markets closely, it simply means that investors in the region will have a hedging tool for the rollercoaster stock markets of China. Up more than 40% since November last year, the stock market dipped several times in January. Since the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect launched, the attention on Chinese A-shares has been unprecedented and additional investor interest should drive demand for exposure and hedging tools.

January 30 2015

Payment Companies Struggle

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The total number of payments licenses currently stands at 269. Most of the licensed companies are private and do not disclose their financials, however, some publicly listed corporations have invested in the payment industry and a peek into their most recent annual reports allows us to know a bit more about the profitability of the payments industry in China. On one end of the spectrum, Alipay dominates the market and is very profitable. On the other, a prepaid-card company almost went bankrupt in January, which begs the question of how the industry is doing as a whole.

The explosion in margin lending has fueled a baseless rally in the Shanghai Composite, but the magnitude of leverage in the stock market is still coming to light.

A bit outside of our normal commentary, but an article sheds light on how low-latency technology is important in China, but for buying train tickets.

Based on a note from the People's Bank of China, China's personal credit scores may very soon be coming from the tech giants rather than any financial institution or credit data provider. On January 5th, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) sent out a note to eight non-banking institutions that they should "prepare for personal credit information operations" within 6 months. Although the note is a bit vague, the effort could indicate the end of what has been a continual problem with personal finance in China.

Some industry reports and rumors seem to indicate that the Chang Gou company's 'Chang-go' pre-paid payment cards are no longer usable. What does this mean for the industry?

According to data from Online Lending House, a China P2P industry data provider, as many as 92 P2P websites had issues in December 2014, significantly more than the 76 that had trouble in all of 2013, Some websites went offline temporarily, some products turned out to be fraudulent and some businesses were closed outright.

It's official. Although the bank has already technically been approved (several times), it seems like WeBank, 30% owned by Tencent, will finally make its big splash on January 18th.

Sneaking it in while the west was busy sipping eggnog and taking a break, the Chinese government has big plans for expanding the Shanghai Free Trade zone geographically. The new zone will include some of the most important real estate in Shanghai including the Lujiazui Financial disctrict.

Continuing along their international expansion strategy, China UnionPay launches Quickpass in South Korea. Could AndroidPay be next?

December 24 2014

Happy Holidays from Kapronasia!

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Happy holidays from the whole team at Kapronasia! We're off this week as well and will be back online January 5th. We're looking forward to an exciting 2015 kicking off with our annual 2015 Top-10 trends in fintech research Reports. Details soon and hope to have you there for the webinar!

December 12th, 12/12, or Double 12, was Alibaba's sequel to the highly successful Singles Day (November 11th). The difference this time though was the incredible focus on and success of the online-to-offline commerce push.

Alibaba is yet again launching another investment product, and this time it will give its Alipay customers the option to invest in gold.

This is part two of a two part series looking at China Unionpay's launch of Android Pay. Part one examined the potential impact of Android Pay on the mobile payment industry. Today we take a look at China Unionpay's business strategy in the mobile payments space as it launches Android Pay. We also answer the question of why China UnionPay would even be interested in having their own mobile payments app in the first place.

The new version of the popular Chinese payment app Alipay now supports Apple’s fingerprint touch sensor for account access and payment authorisation instead of a password.

On December 12th, Webank, the proposed bank from Tencent received regulatory approval to start operations. 

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