For several years the Indian Government has been pushing larger Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to consolidate the market by acquiring smaller and weaker banks. After failing several times in the past, it seems at least the merger of India's largest bank with its five associate banks will be finalised during this fiscal year.

India’s first small finance bank

Written by Ketan Warikoo || April 26 2016

Capital Small Finance Bank (SFB) was launched this Sunday (April 24, 2016) with much fanfare. This is the first of the ten small finance banks to become operational. The SFBs had received in principle approval from RBI last fiscal to start operations.

Gold benchmark contract launched in China

Written by Denis Suslov || April 22 2016

Shanghai Gold Exchange started trading a new gold contract on April 19th. The contract is meant to become a global benchmark similar to the gold fix originated in London and New York, but denominated in RMB.

Indian Startups are finding suitors in Indian Banks

Written by Kapronasia || April 21 2016

And these are not Fintech startups alone. The banking sector is trying to woo this very important and growing ecosystem in the country. Some banks have resorted to novel ways of doing so. RBL (Ratnakar Bank Limited) has announced opening of a branch in Bengaluru dedicated exclusively to cater to the growing startup ecosystem in that city.  This comes close on the heels of SBI recently announcing the establishment of its branch called InCube in Bengaluru recently. RBL bank plans to launch several such branches across the country in the future.

VDBS for financial inclusion in India

Written by Ketan Warikoo || April 19 2016

It is well understood that India continues to have acute challenges around financial inclusion. Only 40 per cent of the adults in the country have formal bank accounts, despite the country having 150 domestic commercial banks and over 2,700 co-operative sector banks operating in the country.

Innovation in Indian ATMs- how banks are leveraging AADHAR

Written by Ketan Warikoo || April 08 2016

Recently DCB Bank became the first bank in India to introduce Aadhar based authentication at its ATMs, starting with its branch in India’s commercial hub- Mumbai. Aadhar provides a 12 digit number to every Indian resident that serves as a proof of identity as well as proof of residence, with biometric scanners being used for authentication.

What’s the golden rule for investment? Don’t lose money. China’s middle class are thinking the same, and people are looking to P2P platforms for ‘safe and high return investment’ until the recent successive P2P company crisis from Jinlu to Zhongjin which has become a nightmare for the families who invested everything on them - the future of P2P products is uncertain.

In early March Citibank announced that it would sell-off its 20% stake in China Guangfa Bank to China Life insurance for USD 3 billion, almost five times more than what the US bank paid for the stake in 2006.

India taking banking NPAs head on

Written by Ketan Warikoo || March 07 2016

NPAs (non-performing assets) as a percentage of total banking credit in the Indian banking industry has increased to nearly 5% in 2015. This has essentially come from the public sector (state owned) banks (PSBs). 90% of the NPAs in the Indian banking industry are attributable to these banks.

Banks take center stage in India’s Union Budget

Written by Ketan Warikoo || March 03 2016

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget for 2016-17 and while India’s high economic growth rate of 7.6% was a bright spot, banking related allocations grabbed the most attention.

“I don’t really care about what are the investment projects on the P2P platform or the borrowers’ details. My attention is more on the investment return, since most of the platform provide guaranteed return rate.”

With an estimated USD 1 trillion worth of capital outflows from Mainland China in 2015, it is clear that a subset of Chinese citizens would rather keep their money outside of China. Following the country’s turbulent stock market and depreciating Yuan, an estimated 100,000+ Mainland Chinese citizens have been venturing out to Hong Kong in order transfer more than the stipulated USD 50,000 outside of China through the means of insurance policies.

A recent announcement from China's central bank, the PBOC, now allows banks to remotely open bank accounts, which was previously not possible - there was at least a bank visit and some paperwork needed. The announcement allows customers to open new accounts via their mobile, which should increase competition significantly between the BAT and traditional banks. 

Numerous Chinese media outlets are reporting on the latest moves by China's regulators to stop any new internet finance company registrations in China. The announcement is a bit vague as is expected from regulators, but indicates that no new fintech business license registrations will be allowed for the foreseeable future. 

China’s Banking Regulation Commission (CBRC) has played with fire long enough, standing on the side and watching the story of online peer-to-peer lending unfold, as it started with a tremendous rise from 2013 to 2014 and to quickly turn into a machine of fraud and risk, potentially damaging countless individuals who were naïve enough to trust this system.

The 12th of December marked the official announcement by China UnionPay (CUP) of the launch of Cloud QuickPass, a mobile payment solutionbased on NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. Tests had been ongoing since May at franchises like McDonald’s, with the backing of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and builds on the existing QuickPass NFC technology deployed in many of the current CUP point-of-sale terminals around China. 

On November 18th, Baidu announced that it was finalising its private bank plans and would be setting up a banking venture with China Citic bank called Baixin. This was the last of the 3 BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) to setup a private bank and was widely expected, although potentially a bit later than originally thought.

China officially dropped its one-child policy by announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children. The move had an impact on markets at home and abroad. Shares in companies that make baby products such as diapers, prams and infant formula were up on the day of announcement while shares of popular contraception brand fell. This economic wave travelled as far as New Zealand where the currency of the dairy exporting country surged. The market reacts for a good reason. It is estimated that the relaxed controls would result in an extra 3 million to 6 million babies born annually in the five-year period starting in 2017.

Baidu the biggest winner in the Ctrip and Qunar's tie-up

Written by Qinwen Wang || October 24 2015

Chinese largest online travel company Ctrip.com International Ltd announced a 45% tie-up with its competition Qunar Cayman Islands Ltd to create an absolute dominant position for China’s fiercely competitive online travel market.

The US ATM manufacturer Diebold is discussing a potential takeover with Wincor Nixdorf, a German ATM manufacturer. Wincor Nixdorf was offered approximately EUR 1.74 billion at EUR 52.50 per share, a price which includes a 30% premium over the stock price on the date of the offering.

The two companies are number 2 and 3 globally, but the ATM market is slowing down, as mature markets are already saturated and sales in the emerging markets are quickly reaching their peak. The industry is also feeling pressure from virtual payments as the shift away from cash and bank cards is happening across the world.

Two days after the global transaction service provider SWIFT reported that in August the yuan overtook the Japanese yen to be the world's fourth-largest payment currency, accounting for 2.79% of the global market, yesterday the PBOC launched the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) in Shanghai.

Alibaba invests more in Paytm to drive further into India

Written by Mildred Leal || October 01 2015

Earlier this week, Alibaba announced it would be investing an additional estimated USD680 million in Paytm, India’s largest mobile payment platform and part of One97 Communications. The investment ups Alibaba's overall ownership to around 40% and shows the e-commerce giant's ambitions to further help develop the mobile commerce and payment industry in India. The money will primarily be used to strengthen the technological platform, customer acquisition and entry into new categories.

With growing national security concerns surrounding imported western network equipment, China’s intensions have been to utilise homegrown network equipment to support its IT infrastructure. Tech giants like Cisco have been displaced to the sidelines with shrinking market share and deflating revenues in the Chinese market. It seems Cisco, who was once critical to the design and construction of China’s internet revolution in the 90’s will be marginalised if it does not take action to boost its sales in China.

If you've ever been to China, you know how atrocious the mobile phone service can be. Previously, you could use any of a number of carriers...as long as it was China Mobile. You could move your number to a different carrier...as long as you had a different number. Users really had no choice as the market was controlled by the government and the 3 main state-owned carriers. Xiaomi is one of eight firms that will be trying to change this.

As a national idol and a self-made billionaire in China, Jack Ma has already shown how he could change the e-commerce industry. He is now creating an internet entertainment empire with Alibaba's previous expansion into music and movies, and now sports.

A cinema in Beijing recently announced that it had become a 'smart movie theatre' by allowing moviegoers to book tickets on their phone which can then be read by a machine a the theatre. Not a completely innovative idea, but considering Alibaba is involved, this could be a big change in the way people consume the medium.

China’s economy is changing. Consumers have taken to e-commerce in a big way and have clicked and shopped their way to make China's e-commerce industry the biggest in the world. A key enabler has been financial reform, which has let the online and mobile payments industry grow and develop. Yet with the regulations of the past month, you'd be forgiven for scratching your head and wondering what the government had in mind...

Big data continues to be big in China's financial industry as China's Qihoo 360 moves into the segment with a data-driven finance product of its own. 

Chairman of ICBC welcomes fintech regs. No really?

Written by Zennon Kapron || August 21 2015

Earlier this week, Finance Asia reported that Yang Kaishen, CEO and Chair of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China stated that recent moves by regulators would be good for innovation. Wait...so the chair of one of the biggest SOEs in the country is in favor of legislation that cuts off the legs of innovation? Well, I'll be...

There's something to be said for the refreshing marketing on Ant Financial's new online wealth management app "Ant Fortune." Whether or not it will actually make a fortune for users is a bit unclear, but you can be sure Alibaba will do well out of it. 

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