Since Chinese online micro lending companies Qudian and Paipai Dai have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the government has been closely following the development of the micro-credit industry. Scrutiny has fallen not only their business model but also on their high revenue, which specifically caught people’s eyes. The Ningbo Jinzhou Financial Office already shut down two micro lending institutions. On November 21, 2017, the General Office of the State Council issued an urgent notice on suspending approval on the establishment of internet small loan companies. With the arising attention around financial risks, could this be the end of the industry? 

It was reported on September 20th 2017 that 17 companies involved in the consumer finance sector had a net profit of 974 million Yuan for the first half of 2017, which was approximately the total net profit for all of 2016. This explosive growth has caused growing concerns amongst regulators who are considering ways to implement a crackdown on the industry.

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.

In August this year, WeBank announced that its lending product “Wei Li Dai” (WeChat Loan) has exceeded RMB100 billion (USD14.7 billion).

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.

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.

Why Asia matters for ICOs

Written by || 10 Jul 2017

In the second of our ICO series, we look at the role that Asia plays in Initial Coin Offerings.

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).

Qupital LogoThere 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. 

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?

In the last year, Panda bonds (the name of mainland RMB denominated bonds from a non-domestic issuer) have become increasingly competitive and attractive for investors. What explains the increased usage of inland bonds in contrast to slightly diminishing performance of the Dim Sum (RMB denominated bond issued abroad)? How do we define the current interrelationship of the two. And what is in store for the future of the Chinese bond market?

Nothing is easy in the banking industry, and it's getting tougher in China. The Chinese central bank (PBOC) used to control banks’ lending and deposit interest rate by setting high and low limits, as the top line and bottom line in the chart. If a bank in China can always lend/borrow at the limit rates, the margin would not change much over the years. However, the story is not that simple.

Over the past year, China's Consumer Finance industry has been attracting a significant amount of attention. It may be the next hot spot for financial development in China.

The new US President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to roll back, and possibly repeal, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. This will have wide-reaching repercussions for Asia.

China’s consumer finance industry is booming amid the rising level of consumption among the Chinese Millennials group, a population representing nearly one-third of China’s whole population. The scale of the industry has been pushed to RMB 107.72 billion by total asset value by September last year, almost doubling the scale of RMB 51 billion in 2015.

December 6th, 2016 China Merchants Bank (CMB) held its press conference in Shen’Zhen, China, for its new AI wealth management product: MachineGene Investment, or “Mo’Jie” in Chinese. The launch represented the first time a Chinese bank released a wealth management product based on AI/Robot technology.

The recent move by the Indian Government to ban the old Rupees 500 and 1000 notes has created turbulence far beyond what was imagined and planned for. The intent was laudable, as the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to curb growing corruption in the economy. However, the lack of preparation on part of the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the commercial banks has meant that the citizens have been left in the lurch.

Recent announcements in the personal credit scoring market in China show that both global established giants and smaller, but cutting-edge companies are carving out niche markets for themselves in the country.

Since December 1st, China’s Central Bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), has implemented a new Classification Management Rule for Personal Bank Accounts in China. It divides individuals’ bank accounts into three categories: 1. the main account, 2. the wallet for everyday use and 3. the 'coin purse'.

As part of our China Fintech initiative, we brought a group of Chinese executives to Singapore for the Fintech Festival and a number of company visits. The 17 fintech executives from some of China's largest P2P lenders, consumer finance groups and digital payments platforms were part of the group. 

The Singapore Fintech Festival concluded on Friday November 18th, much like it started, with a bang. At the beginning of the week it was the Monetary Authority of Singapore laying out its vision for the future of fintech, while the closing party consisted of drums, music and a celebratory finish to a hectic week of innovation center visits, conferences, meetings, openings, drinks, awards ceremonies, more drinks and a general celebration of Fintech in Singapore.  

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