Asia Financial Industry Blog

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.

Earlier this week, Burberry announced lower than expected earnings which largely disappointed and somewhat scared markets. Their slowdown is global, but a key challenge was declining luxury spend from Chinese consumers – which is seen by many as a bellwether for the rest of a general industry slowdown. We’ve talked about luxury spending in China in the past, but it’s worth considering the implications of a potential slowdown in the luxury industry and the implications if the slowdown is indeed an indicator of a shift in the habits of China’s wealthy.

In 2013, China will take over Japan as the biggest consumer of IT products in Asia. According to IDC, China's total IT market size in 2012 is projected to reach 155 billion US dollars, with 20% growth rate YOY, and in 2013, this number will reach 170 billion dollars, 4% more than that of Japan. During China's Five Year Plan period (from 2011 to 2015), companies must invest more in their IT infrastructure to meet the demands of stable growth and innovations.

In the banking industry,  total IT spending (software and services) in 2011 exceeded 15 billion US dollars, with a 19% growth rate compared to 2010, and, according to IDC, China's banking IT spending will keep a 20% CAGR (Compound Average Growth Rate), hitting 39 billion dollars in 2016. We expect that the new generation of core banking systems, risk control, big data analysis and mobile payment will be the main driving forces behind the IT spend.  

Kapronasia's latest report looking at the state of China's 3rd Party Online Payments Industry is now available on Kapronasia.com under the research report section.

If you are a subscriber to Kapronasia's Banking Advisory Service, the report can be downloaded after you have logged into your account. If you are not a subscriber, but are interested in purchasing the report, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The recording of the 3rd Party Online Payment webinar is also available in the webinar section of the website.

The Banking on China report is now available on the Kapronasia website in the research reports section. The report from Oracle and Kapronasia looks at the key challenges and opportunities for international banks in China and is based on numerous interviews with both larger and smaller banks in China. The complimentary report is available for download after you have logged into your Kapronasia.com user account. If you do not have an account, register today for free. 

Kapronasia's latest report looking at the state of China's Prepaid Card Industry is now available on Kapronasia.com under the research report section.

If you are a subscriber to Kapronasia's Banking Advisory Service, the report can be downloaded after you have logged into your account. If you are not a subscriber, but are interested in purchasing the report, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The recording of the Prepaid Card webinar is also available in the webinar section.

Kapronasia's 3rd Party Online Payment Industry webinar recording is now available in the webinar section of kapronasia.com. Thank you to everyone who attended. We hope you found it useful.

Please keep an eye out for Kapronasia's Q3 and Q4 webinars. 

On 27th July 2012, Shanghai Stock Exchange announced a guideline on measures for terminating the listings of poorly performing companies or “special treatment” (ST) companies.

According to the guideline, companies will be traded on a soon to be created new board for 30 trading days before being completely removed from the bourse. During their remaining days on the exchange, shares must trade within a required price range. The upper limit of the daily price movement is 1% while the lower limit is 5%. In addition, an investor can only buy up to 500,000 ST shares each trading day, the guideline suggested.

The new stock-delisting rules are part of broader financial reforms to China’s capital markets, in line with CSRC’s recent statement to launch an efficient system to delisted companies on the foundation of an investor-protection system. It is believed that the introduction of a delisting mechanism will lower volatility, preventing speculators from betting on dramatic fluctuations of underperforming stocks and therefore enhancing the soundness of the market.

Kapronasia will be hosting a webinar on August 8th, 2012 looking at China's Online Payments market. 

For more information on the webinar, please see the webinar description here or to register directly, go here.

The webinar is complimentary and will be looking at aspects of Kapronasia's soon to be released Online Payments Market in China report.

The World Economic Outlook Update published on July 16, 2012 announced that IMF revised its forecast for China’s GDP growth rate from 8.2% to 8.0% for this year and from 8.8% to 8.5% for next year. This down-rated outlook followed the recent announcement that China’s economy had grown at only 7.6% for 2012Q2, below the target of 8%. Recent news apparently drew a pessimistic picture for investors and consumers: risk of a hard landing is heightened.

In our opinion, however, the IMF revision could be a catalyst to refuel China’s economy. In fact, many analysts hold the view that the China’s authority is likely to announce more interest rate cuts and deposit reserve ratio reductions to further bolster the credit supply and reactivate the liquidity in the economy, which are essential to promote investment. As a result, consumer confidence will be maintained for the economic growth.

A recording of Kapronasia's Prepaid Cards in China webinar is now available for viewing on Kapronasia.com. To access the recording, click on the webinar link at the top of the website.

Recently, a WTO dispute panel, in response to the recent US complaint, said China is breaking the WTO rules by maintaining CUP as a monopoly supplier for the clearing of certain types of RMB-denominated payment card transactions. The specific areas where the panel determined that China had discriminated against foreign bank card suppliers are that 1) China requires all payment cards issued in China to work with the CUP network and to carry its logo, and 2) China forces all payment terminals to accept CUP network.

Trend 1: Fourth Round of Payment Licenses

If you remember from our previous commentaries, in 2011, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) mandated that any company providing payment products or services be licensed in order to operate. This brought a much needed dose of regulation to what was previously quite an unregulated industry. Since then, 4 rounds of payment licenses have been approved, the last being on June 28th, when another 95 payment companies qualified to provide payment products and services in China.

According to public information on the official website of Jumio, this fast-growing payment and online ID verification company based in California will be announcing additional deals with customers in Asia later this year. This is a signal for the firm’s ambition and interest in entering the Asian online payment markets, among which China is of significant importance.

BlackRock recently announced the view that emerging stock markets such as China which have underperformed till early this year, are set to take off in the second half of 2012 thanks to the strong economic growth, slowing inflation, less volatility, and cheaper valuation.

 

According to PBOC (the People’s Bank of China), driven by the proliferation of online banking in China, in 2011 the total online payment transaction value reached 700 trillion RMB, with a 33% growth rate.

On June 16th, 2012, China Telecom, one of three mobile network operations in China, announced that its total mobile payment transaction value in 2012 researched 17 billion RMB, already exceeding the total amount of last year.

Recently Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission, the main financial regulator, said it had approved applications submitted by Bank of China and Bank of Communications to establish branches in Taipei. The banks will only be allowed to engage in limited business in the country, e.g. can only accept deposits higher than NT$3 million (US$100,350), only provide corporate loans. Further, the banks will need to receive approval from Taiwan's central bank if they wish to engage in f/x.

We have talked about this before, but the latest chart from Reuters / BOC HK is another indication that demand for RMB denominated bonds in HK is waning as yield is creeping up once again. This is creating a bit of a knock-on effect as the cost of financing through RMB bonds rises making traditional USD bonds more attractive. We expect this to continue for the rest of the year actually as there are no near-term events that we are expecting that would change the trajectory or somehow make RMB more attractive. 

According to China’s Credit Card Report of 2011, the total number of credit card reached 290 million and the total value of consumption by credit card was 4.1 trillion RMB in 2011, accounting for 22.6% of China’s total retail sales of consumer goods. In recent years, credit card consumption has experienced rapid growth benefiting increased consumer consumption as well as improvements in convenience and security.

According to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, as of May 2012, the number of Qualified Foreign Institution Investors reached 141, and the total investment quota of QFII reached 26 billion USD. The latest news from China’s securities authorities showed that the QFII investment quota would be increased to 80 billion USD.  

According to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, as of April 2012, the total QDII investment quota reached 76.4 billion USD, and the number of Qualified Domestic Institution Investors reached 98. The institutions consist of fund management companies, insurance companies, commercial banks, securities companies and trusts. Among them, fund companies' quota represented 56.1% of the total quota, reaching 42.9 billion USD. Insurance companies accounted for 26.3% or 20.1 billion USD, commercial banks were 12.4% and 9.5 billion USD. Securities companies could invest 2.2 billion USD, the proportion was 2.9%. The proportion of trust company was the minimum about 2.3%, reached 1.8 billion USD. From the above, we can see Funds and insurances held the dominant position in the total quota.  

The RQFII (RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) program, launched in December 2011, allows qualified investors to invest yuan-based funds raised in Hong Kong in the mainland securities market within a permitted quota. According to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), as of the end of January 2012, there are 21 financial institutions that have received RQFII qualification and the total quota reached 20 billion RMB. Among them, funds companies and securities companies each accounted for 50%. The latest news from China’s securities regulators indicates that the RQFII investment quota will be further increased to 50 billion RMB in the future, and that the authorities would further enlarge the pilot area and the number of qualified investors.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s total retail sales of consumer goods reached 18 trillion RMB and the number of online Shopping users reached 194 million. At the same time, in 2011, China’s Online Shopping Market reached 773.6 billion RMB, with a year-on-year growth of 55.3%. The transaction value of China’s Online Shopping Market contributed 4.3% to the total retail sales of consumer goods, continuing to grow in importance to the overall retail sales market.

According to the latest China’s Payment Report from People’s Bank of China, up to 2012 Q1, the total number of bank card in circulation grew 5.2% quarterly to 3.1 billion, reaching about 2 bank cards per person. Among them, the total number of credit cards reached 290 million, an increase of 1.8% from end of 2011Q4.

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