The Financial services sector is integrating AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and predictive analytics at a remarkable rate for both customer-facing and back-end operations. One element commonly associated with AI, but one that has not yet made a strong impact, are ‘chatbots,’ computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users. However, this could be about to change, with large financial institutions starting to experiment and launch products leveraging AI technology.
The Indian central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is considering the possibility of introducing a fiat cryptocurrency in the country.
Bitcoin and blockchain technology has raised the specter of dis-intermediation for the leading global banks in the last few years.
The equity market cross-connects between Hong Kong and Shanghai, and Hong Kong and Shenzhen have begun to show signs of growing maturity.
China’s Transsion Holdings, one of the major mobile phone manufacturers in the world and second largest smartphone vendor in Africa is known for owning mobile phone brands TECNO, itel and Infinix. It was the first Chinese smartphone manufacturer to explore the African market and have a smartphone plant in Africa.
Today, its mobile phone brands have experienced tremendous success with itel being the second largest handset vendor in India with approximately 8 million sold handsets within only 8 months of its launch. Whilst, Infinix is successfully winning over the Nigerian and Kenya smartphone market through 'Infinix Mobility' which reported that it sold over 4 million devices in Africa within a 16-month period.
The crypto space is evolving rapidly, from bitcoin in 2009 to over 900 different crypto-currencies in 2017. The space is emerging and developing at an exponential rate. Blockchain technology has been following a similar trend with more and more potential uses being found every day. The potential for innovation is endless, this is only the beginning.
There has been significant news published in the last week regarding regulation around initial coin offerings (ICOs) especially around the Chinese Government's position on ICOs in China. Finally, at 3.00pm, September 4th this Monday, seven important Chinese government departments including the PBOC, issued an announcement to stop any ICO transactions and defined ICOs in China as illegal fund raising. Strict ICO regulatory is the right choice but is this ‘One-size-fits-all Policy’ the right answer?
Ant Financial is well established as the largest fintech in China. These past two years have been excellent for the company as they reached 450 million users with an average expenditure of 16,000 RMB through the Alipay platform. They recently started to make use of Alibaba’s acquired controlling stake of company Lazada in Singapore, which has given them access to most of the SEA market. In addition, Ant bid for Moneygram in the United States, and funded bike sharing service Gobee.bike’s launch in Hong Kong (being the first bike sharing company of the kind launched in HK). However, the important question here is: what awaits the company in the near future? Three words. Diversification, internationalisation and experimentation.
In August this year, WeBank announced that its lending product “Wei Li Dai” (WeChat Loan) has exceeded RMB100 billion (USD14.7 billion).
For several weeks earlier this year, the PBOC (Peoples Bank of China) focused on bitcoin exchanges and halted crypto-currency withdrawals from the main exchanges; now ICO’s (initial coin offerings) have grabbed their attention. With ICO’s growing in popularity they are hard to ignore, In China since the beginning of the year there have been 65 ICO’s, that have raised over 2.6 billion RMB. As such, the PBOC has been considering banning ICO’s as they expose investors to a very high risk and “illegally absorb public funds.”
Anti-money laundering activities are taking the center stage in Indian financial markets. The recent crackdown on shell companies, and brokerages helping them, by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is part of a concerted effort by the Government to clean up the financial markets in India.
An efficient credit checking system is critical for the development of retail financial services. But in China, the individual credit system is not as advanced as the ones in US or Europe with the People's Bank of China (PBOC) credit system covering only about 25% of the entire Chinese population. The lack of credit investigation system creates a major issue for the risk control process of the financial services, especially on the inclusive finance side.
China has been at the vanguard lately when it comes to p2p lending, and even though there has been new-found focus on the risk of p2p and the creation of the Fintech Committee meant to regulate Fintech in China, companies keep developing and implementing new models that are cutting edge and in process of revitalizing markets that have barely been touched due to their inherent risk, and in the process of doing so, they have come up with successful business models that have excellent prospects of development.
Opening a completely private commercial bank with no government ownership is not a suitable choice in every country. In some countries, like the US, private commercial banks play an important role in their economy and provide loans to small and medium enterprises. However, in Indonesia, the government allowed private commercial banks in the 1980s and it turned out to be a failure. Founders used the banks as a tool to collect money, and invested in real estate in order to profit, at the cost of a serious economic bubble.
QR-codes have been a boon for China's 3rd Party Payment providers, but due to QR-Code standardization and the launch of China's Online Settlement Platform for Non-Bank Payment Institutions, more colloquially known just as Wanglian, QR-codes could now be the payment giants' biggest challenge.
China Fintech has been developing rapidly. According to an EY report, in 2016, China's fintech industry attracted US$8.58 billion in investment, the highest in the world. However, while the UK's fintech regulatory sandbox became a case-study for governments globally including Singapore and Australia, there is still a big blank in China. For example, China's P2P industry developed without any regulation since it started in 2007. The government only started monitoring the industry in 2016, after serious criminal cases which caused social panic happened.
Recently, there has been a rise in Chinese internet giants investing or collaborating with banks. This year alone, some of China’s largest internet companies – Baidu, Ant Financial, Jingdong Finance, and Tencent – formed strategic partnerships with some of China’s biggest banks. All these companies, while being competitors, have risen to be at the forefront of the FinTech movement in China in recent years. Therefore, collaborating and partnering with these powerful banks give the companies a head-start in this developing market.
Asia is the heart of the rapidly growing FinTech movement. Singapore is one of the countries in the region vying for the top spot as Asia’s FinTech hub. With Singapore constantly getting closer to being the industry’s hub in Asia, it is not surprising that there is competition from other regions within Asia – particularly Hong Kong.
While no official steps have yet been taken, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in Beijing has raised the possibility of a regulatory sandbox environment for future ICOs as the government works through its options for potential regulations, focusing on providing a legal framework for Initial Coin Offerings in China (ICOs) moving forward. In addition, options such as investor education, project review, and increased information disclosure have been mentioned as targets for a new framework. The PBOC’s previous emphasis on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols are also expected to continue with ICO regulations. Other potential regulatory possibilities include requiring companies to have a working product before their ICO, requiring more information disclosure including risk and investor assessments, and reducing speculative investments.
In the second of our ICO series, we look at the role that Asia plays in Initial Coin Offerings.
Over the past few weeks, little-known ICOs have grabbed the media's attention. ICOs, or 'Initial Coin Offerings', have become a new way for individuals and start-ups to obtain funding. A significant number of these ICOs are originating from China, so we decided to take a look at the dynamics behind these new funding vehicles.
MSCI, the influential provider of stock market indexes, has made the long-awaited decision to add Mainland Chinese A shares to its emerging markets index. 222 stocks from the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges will be added to the index. These 222 shares will represent just 0.7% of the emerging markets index, which is tracked by and estimated $1.6 trillion in funds.
Hike messenger, a popular phone messaging service app in India, has recently decided to introduce payment services on its platform.
Government reforms have had contrasting effect on the securitization and corporate debt markets in India. Significant issues such as the high level of bad loans at public sector banks, bankruptcy laws which were not conducive to recovery of non-performing assets (NPAs), securitization of debt and the need to boost the corporate debt market, go hand in hand in India.
Historically speaking, it has been very difficult for Chinese investors and institutions to invest their money overseas. The Chinese government has several reasons for tightly regulating capital outflows, the most important of which is controlling the value of the yuan. However, as a continuation of China’s broad plan to become more integrated into the globalized economy, the government has been encouraging cross-border investment through programs that allow Chinese investors to invest overseas, and programs that allow foreign institutions to invest in the mainland.
As China's FinTech industry, led by Tencent and Alibaba, has exploded in recent years, regulators have been watching the industry’s growth carefully, in order to manage risk and protect consumers while still encouraging growth and innovation. In May 2017, The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank and main regulator, announced the creation of a FinTech committee under the PBOC’s Technology Department to research the impact of the sector on financial markets and China’s monetary policy. In addition, the committee will also act as a coordinating body for the PBOC, as well as research and promote the implementation of regulatory technology (RegTech).
There is a large financing gap in the Hong Kong market, particularly for SMEs who have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of available financing. Thus, it was not a shock when Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate – invested $2 million into Qupital, a Hong Kong based online platform that allows mainly SMEs raise finance against their receivables by connecting them with professional investors and family offices.
There is a big blank space on individual credit scoring in China. The national individual credit reporting system was founded in 2005 by the Credit Reference Center, a part of the People's Bank of China (PBOC). But at the end of 2015, only 870 million individuals were included in the database, and only 370 million people’ credit history was in the system, covering just 26% of the whole population. On Jan 5th 2015, the Chinese government authorized 8 companies to prepare their own personal credit scoring platforms. One of them, Sesame Credit, is owned by Ant Finance and is the largest platform, but remains unlicensed.
Yu’E Bao, the world’s largest money-market fund, may have to limit its individual investment amount at RMB500,000 (USD$72464), which is half of the amount the limit is now. The implications aren't for certain at this point, but it could mean the end of the platform's growth in the future.
On the last day of March 2017, Wang’lian (Internet Payment Union) started its trial operation after one year of preparation. The first group of companies that have joined the platform include: Wechat Pay, China Merchants Bank, Bank of China, and Chinabank Payment. The platform will effectively cut the 3rd party payment networks of Ant Financial and Tencent, and is likely the most important payment industry development this year, and it may not bode well for China's dominant digital payment companies.
As the Indian economy grows rapidly, there is an opportunity to bring ever larger number of Indians into the banking mainstream through both public and private banks.
A press announcement on April 10th 2017 showed that Tencent, a Chinese online giant, led an investment in India’s electronic commerce company Flipkart, alongside eBay and Microsoft. The total amount was $1.4 billion and Tencent contributed $700 million, eBay $500 million and Microsoft $200 million. This was the first investment for Tencent into India’s e-commerce market. But the question remains, will it be a good move for the company?
The Chinese bond markets are becoming more accessible through regulatory initiatives and greater foreign investor participation.
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is the oldest stock exchange in Asia, having been founded in 1875. However, in recent years, it has become the number two equity exchange in India, after the National Stock Exchange (NSE).