Asia Financial Industry Blog

Based on data released from the PBOC, bank card issuance in Q1 has increased 4.5% compared to 2012 Q4 to reach a total of 3.69 billion cards issued. Within the issued 3.69 billion cards, the total number of debit cards issued was 3.65 billion and total credit card issuance reached to 0.34 billion. From Q1 2012, the issued bank cards have had a steady growing trend which indicates that bank cards have becoming more and more Important as a payment method in China. Domestically, 10.6 billion bank card transactions happened in Q1 2013, and the total transaction value was 100.27 trillion yuan which increased 23.9% and 19.3% compared to Q1 2012.

 

Chinese Bankcard issuance

According to iResearch, the total transaction value of China’s 3rd party online payment in 2013 Q, for the first time, declined slightly from last quarter’s 1,065 billion to 1,018 billion, -4.4% quarter-on-quarter. After the staggering growth over the last ten years, China’s 3rd party online payment market has entered a more mature stage of development. This dip largely resulted from the increasing commoditized and homogenous products and services – 3rd party players need more innovative products to improve their services and boost their revenue in the future.

Alipay is still the biggest 3rd party player, accounting for 48% market share, followed by China UnionPay with 20% market share.

China Online Payment Transactions by Value 

Based on the recent half-year performance of hedge funds, it appears that the average performance of all types of hedge funds outperformed the market return significantly with macro-economic hedge funds ranked first in returns from November of 2012 to the end of April of 2013.

Chinese Hedge Fund performance exceeded market returns 

 

 

According to the annual reports released by city commercial banks, a lot of city commercial banks’ net profit growth rates in 2012 have shown a slowing down trend compared to 2011. For example, in 2011, both net profit growth rates of Hankou Bank and Bank of Chengdu were close to 50%, however, both of them shown a dramatic decrease as the end of 2012. Also, the net profit growth of the two listed city commercial banks - Bank of Nanjing and Bank of Ningbo, are showing a significant decline in 2012.

Lower net profit is putting a lot of pressure to Chinese commercial banks in 2013, and the figures implies that city commercial banks have to seek for new business and products to reboot high profit in 2013.

 

 

The latest Chinese manufacturing PMI is 50.6, declining by 0.3 point from March. From May 2012 to April 2013, this PMI figure has hovered the important line of 50 which is the watershed between economic growth and shrinkage. It signals that the growth of Chinese manufacturing economy is still fluctuating, largely because of the transformation and reformation of Chinese manufacturing industries during this period. The trend is expected to continue in the future so we will likely see continued fluctuations.

China's PMI over the recent past

As the end of 2012, the total number of Chinese online banking registered users reached about 489 million. More specifically, according to the data released from Cebnet, CCB’s online banking customers increased to 119.26 million, jumping by 41% from 2011 to 2012. The number of BOC’s online banking customers has reached to 91.42 million, with a year-on-year growth rate of 66%.

Because of the dramatic increase in the number of online banking users, banks such as ICBC and CCB have launched more innovative personal banking services such as social insurance and wealth management services.

Number of Online banking users in China 

 

 

Recently, China UnionPay (CUP) and Xinhua News Agency jointly released the Xinhua • CUP Bankcard Consumer Confidence Index (BCCI) for March 2013. It shows that the BCCI is currently at 87.20, growing by 1% month-to-month and 0.43% year-on-year. Generally, the more consumption expenditure on non-necessities, the better macroeconomic situation and personal income reflected, and the more optimism consumers hold towards the future economic situation and personal income.

Based on the transaction information of bankcard consumption by urban residents, this BCCI reflects the confidence level of the consumers towards macro-economy by analyzing the changes to the structure of the bankcard consumption expenditure (mainly the change in the proportion of non-necessities to total consumption amount). Chinese government’s further push on domestic consumption will continue to drive the steady growth of BCCI.

 

 

 

According to Beijing’s government, the total transaction value of e-commerce in Beijing, one of biggest cities in China, grew by 45% to 550 billion RMB in 2012. Beijing’s e-commerce market is characterized by its high transaction volume, which has prompted half of China's top 10 e-commerce companies set up headquarters in Beijing in often in one of the two national e-commerce industry zones which attract a great number of small and medium e-commerce firms. Beijing’s government expects that its e-commerce transaction value will grow at 22% CAGR and hit 1 trillion RMB in 2015, which will account for 60% of Beijing’s GDP. 

 

According to the CBRC, China’s commercial banks announced a total net profit of 1.24 trillion RMB in 2012, with the total net profit of the 16 listed banks comprising 1.03 trillion of that total. Among these 16 listed banks, the five major banks ICBC, ABC, BOC, CCB, and BOCom earned 239, 145, 139, 194, and 58 billion RMB respectively in 2012. China Merchants Bank (CMB) made 45.3 billion RMB net profit in 2012, topping other joint-stock banks. Bank of Beijing, as the leading city commercial bank in China, earned 11.7 billion RMB net profit last year. However, the overall net profit growth rate of China’s commercial banks has declined compared to 2011 apparently due to the process of interest marketization which has deceased interest based revenue recently. 

Chinese Banks Net Profit 2013

 

 

 

 

 

There are two main sub-industry categories that QFIIs seem to be investing in in China's A-Share market: the mechanics and food & drink manufacturing industries. During the first quarter of 2013, there was a slight decline of 1.55% in the QFII shareholdings in the mechanics manufacturing industry and a 5.78% increase in the food & drink industry.

 

According to the PBOC, the value of new RMB loans in the first quarter of 2013 are at a three-year high. In the first quarter of 2013, the new lending is 2.76 trillion yuan, growing by 13%, compared with 2.46 trillion yuan in the same period of 2012. It signals that the financing demands in the market start are increasing and analysts believe the total new loans will reach 9 trillion yuan in 2013. More interestingly, among the newly increased loans, 30% of the loans are long-term loans, showing a sign of a strong economic rebound in China.

 

 

 

Wealth management refers to a type of financial analysis, financial planning and management service that banks provide to high net worth individuals. Banks have the obligation to return certain profit by managing customers' funds in an agreed period of time.

Recently, Alipay, China’s largest third-party payment company, released its sound wave payment mobile product, which is the first time that “sound payments” have been commercialized in China. Customers can now pay for goods from the vending machines deployed by Alipay in Beijing’s subway through the sound wave payment.

According to the China Securities Journal, the quality of credit assets is again appearing as an issue for Chinese banks. The latest annual report shows that the non-performing loan (NPL) balance and non-performing loan (NPL) ratio both increased in 2012, a sharp move from the “double decreasing” in both NPL balance and NPL ratio in the previous years.

The total NPL balance in the 11 listed banks was ¥385.38 billion in 2012 with a YOY growth rate of 8.1% compared to ¥356.6 billion in 2011. China Construction Bank believes the upward trend in NPL is due to the macroeconomic fluctuations in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.

The trust industry is currently the fastest growing segment in China's asset management industry so far in 2013. In Q4 2012, the total trust AUM was about US$1.195 trillion. At the end of Q1 2013, this number had reached about US$1.395 trillion representing a growth rate of about 16.7%. That growth rate is actually faster than the growth rate of bank loans / deposits, market growth of the securities market, bonds, funds and insurance industry.

 

According to CCW Research, a local Chinese IT market research company, China’s financial industry IT software spend in 2012 grew to 49 billion RMB and the spending will keep a steady growth in 2013. Banking segment spend is a key driver, making up about 72% of total spend. Comprehensive risk management and big data are the main IT focus areas for banks.

As securities companies continuously launch new business, CCW estimates that IT spending on new business-related solutions in the securities sub-segment will increase considerably in future. 

For insurance companies, the overall IT infrastructure is still very nascent. Large players will invest more money into the development and update of core systems.

In order to facilitate the RMB’s cross-border settlement and promote the global use of the RMB, China’s central bank (the PBOC) is now building an international payment system called as CIPS (The China International Payment System). This CIPS is expected to take one or two years to launch and will make cross-border RMB trade settlement more efficient and safer.

Last month, China Mobile, the biggest mobile network operator (MNO) in China, and China UnionPay (CUP) unveiled their latest mobile payment product – “Mobile Wallet”- at MWC 2013 (Mobile Word Congress, the world’s premier mobile industry event).

Kapronasia's latest report Trading China - A Look at the Issues and Opportunities in China's Capital Markets is now available in the research reports section of the Kapronasia website. The report, sponsored by Equinix, is a detailed look at the challenges and opportunities in China's capital markets. The report is free, but does require registration to download. For more information on the report, please look in the research reports section of the website above. 

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal wrote about how although mobile payments are slow to take off in China, telephone or 'fixed-line' payments are actually doing quite well and actually hugely dwarfs mobile payments. When you consider the history of the 5 major banks and their alignment with particular sectors, it's no surprise that the Agricultural Bank of China would be leveraging this kind of business model, but what is interesting is the way that the model completely avoids mobile payments. It's almost as if the bank (industry?) in China is saying 'ok, so no standards on mobile, we'll innovate with what we have.' Which is actually not tremendously different that what we're seeing in other markets where the adoption of a consistent mobile payments standard seems inconsistent at best...

The Hedge Fund Association, in conjunction with Bloomberg, hosted the HFA - Bloomberg Shanghai Hedge Fund Panel Discussion: International Hedge Funds and Direct Investment in China, in Shanghai on January 5th, 2013. During the event, three experts shared their insight into the challenges and opportunities in China’s hedge fund industry in 2013. I had the opportunity to attend on behalf of Kapronasia and summarized some of my conclusions from the event here:

The 2nd Annual eTail Conference was held from 27th to 28th November, 2012 in Shanghai. Kapronasia was invited to attend the event to speak on a few payment related topics along with other industry experts. The conference's topics included e-commerce trends and strategies, cross border shopping challenges, and IT implementation on e-payment.

Margin trading is an important part of financial markets, especially for derivatives although the use of margin trading is still somewhat controversial in certain markets. In China, margin trading is relatively new and the phenomenon and behaviors observed in the markets from the use of margin trading are quite different from those of western markets. In order to better understand the markets, its worth taking some time to analyze the differences and provide suggestions to utilize the opportunities from the development of Chinese margin trading market development.

In the past we haven’t spent too much time looking at the development of China’s financial futures market, but if you were to ask any China capital markets observer what some of the most important reforms of the past few years included, the introduction of the financial futures market would be one of them.

The CSRC’s latest figures show that 57 funds obtained QFII (Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) licenses in the first 10 months of 2012, far more than any previous year since the program’s inception in 2003. This is a positive signal that foreign investors are more keen to invest in China. Moreover, on Nov. 14th, 2012, Chinese regulators decided to expand the quota by 200 billion yuan to specifically attract RQFII investments; it is predicted that the quota will soon be used up and likely regulators will continue to increase the quota amount.

China Mobile, the biggest mobile network operator in China, continues to grow its mobile payment business which was first launched in 2010. At the end of September 2012, China Mobile had 60 million registered mobile payment users with a total transaction value of reached 25 billion RMB, 2.5 times as much as in 2011.

In 2012, other key players in China’s mobile payment market also expanded their business. At the end of October 2012, the number of China Telecom’s mobile payment users exceeded 8 million; China UnionPay also announced that so far it has 4 million mobile payment users, compared with 2 million in 2011. The data from Alipay (China’s biggest third-party payment company) showed that as of the end of May 2012, Alipay had 10 million users conducting payment through their mobile phone and the number was increasing by about 90,000 every day.

We expect that China’s mobile payment business will grow faster in the future, with the number of mobile users surging to 400 million in 2015.

Kapronasia is pleased to announce the next webinar in our ongoing series covering China's Financial Services Industry. The November 21st webinar will be looking at the current status and future development of China's Credit Card industry. More information on the webinar and information on how to register can be found here.

The webinar is free and open to all.

Shanghai has been authorized to become the first pilot city for a new RMB cross-border program – RQFLP (Qualified Foreign Limited Partner, RQFLP) which means offshore RMB can be raised and used for private equity investments in the Mainland. Following traditional FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and RQFII (RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors), RQFLP has become a new channel for the backflow of offshore RMB. Bank of Shanghai and the Hong Kong subsidiary of Haitong Securities (one of biggest securities in mainland China) have signed a memorandum of cooperation to be the first to issue RQFLP products in Hong Kong. The total quota is about 1 billion RMB. Bank of Shanghai will provide custody services and Haitong securities will take charge of the design and issuance of the RQFLP products in Hong Kong. After being raised in Hong Kong, these offshore RMB will enter into Shanghai for private equity investments.

So we’ve just come out of the October holiday here in China and are headed in the final frantic few months before Chinese New Year. The difference this year is the early November once in a decade leadership transition where nearly every Chinese leader and politician will be replaced and/or shifted around in China’s Communist Party. It was never in doubt that the transition would happen towards the end of this year, but it was only in the last few weeks that it became clear it would happen in early November.

This is an important transition for the government and only the second peaceful transition of power in recent China’s recent history. The transition is even more important because of the critical social and economic challenges that the country is facing right now. A slow/stagnant world economy and increased but still limited domestic consumption is limiting China’s economy as a whole which is exacerbating the internal challenges it is facing – one of the most critical being the increasing delta between the haves and have nots. If you have been reading international media recently, we’re starting to see more and more of this discrepancy being uncovered and it does nothing to help the government in the eyes of the people.

More specifically to the financial industry however, the transition means increased change. We’ve seen this already this year especially in the capital markets as the new chief regulators have done quite a bit to open the capital markets this year with increased rumours that regulation on the RFQLP programme should be announced shortly, adding yet another channel for off-shore RMB to come back into China’s mainland markets.

The shift in policy is also indicative of China’s increased awareness of money leaving China. With reports of both wealthy individuals and corporations legally and illegally sending money abroad, the issue which used to be too much hot money coming in, is now too much hot money going out. To a certain extent, this is a bit of a blessing in disguise for China as it will allow regulators to further open the market without risking the hot money inflows – which was viewed as a challenge in the past.

With the party congress set for November of this year, we’re unlikely to see too much more change until after Chinese New Year (Feb 2013). What we should be able to quickly determine though is how open the new leaders are to change and modernization of all industries, not just the financial services industry. As we’ve discussed on our blog before, this will largely depend on how quickly the new leaders can consolidate their power to be able to effect change and in which direction they decide to go.

Regardless, 2013 will be a new watershed for China’s financial services industry. Stay tuned early next year for our 2013 top financial technology trends report to see how we see things changing.

According to the latest semiannual reports issued by China’s commercial banks, e-banking continues to grow in importance as a part of banks’ business. For most of banks, e-banking channels has already contributed to over 60% of total transaction volume with the 5 large commercial banks’ total e-banking transactions showing a 35% growth rate year on year. Benefiting from the advancement of IT and the proliferation of smart mobile phone in China, mobile banking has become increasingly convenient for users and important for banks. 

In order to meet the strong demand for mobile banking, banks continue to update their mobile banking applications and launch new functions to enhance the user experience. For instance, Agricultural Bank released its new iPhone-enabled mobile banking app which not only supports banking transactions but also integrates online shopping. Bank of China launched the first Windows-enabled mobile banking application recently. We expect that in the future banks will offer more value-added services on their mobile banking products through innovations and ensure safe and reliable systems.

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