Alibaba Teams up with Banks to Launch Unsecured Loans

Written by Fiona Zhao || August 12 2014

On July 22nd, 2014, Alibaba teamed up with seven banks including ICBC, CCB, CMB, Ping An Bank, Postal Savings Bank of China, Bank of Shanghai and Industrial Bank to roll out new internet business loan service.

Will VTMs disrupt the ATM industry in China?

Written by Fiona Zhao || August 08 2014

China has been going through rapid urbanization during last decades and in the past ten years alone the percentage of population residing in cities has leapt from 40.5% in 2003 to 53.75% in 2013.

The “Notice on Government-set Prices and Government-Guided Prices for Commercial Banking Services”, published by National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), is effective on August 1st, 2014.

Private Banks and China now liberalizing - New opportunities?

Written by Diego Castillo || August 06 2014

China is beginning to open its financial sector with the approval of three privately owned banks, extending the wave of financial reforms aimed at boosting China's changing economy.

Talks China – US - July 2014

Written by Diego Castillo || July 24 2014

Earlier this month, the US and China held their annual talks in Beijing, where they discussed trade, economic, regional, and political concerns.

Kapronasia's ATMs in China 2014 webinar and slides are now available in the webinar section of the website or by clicking here

Chinese Banking Technology: Brilliance Technology Lists

Written by Denis Suslov || July 16 2014

Currently there are 637 companies on the IPO list in China and their prospectuses, published by the China Securities Regulatory Commission, reveal business intelligence, previously not available for public.

Foreign Banks in China: Steady Growth

Written by Denis Suslov || July 11 2014

PBoC’s 2013 annual report shows that foreign banks in China showed steady growth and even outpaced GDP growth in terms of new deposits, but still lag their domestic competitiors.

P2P Platforms Face Troubles

Written by Fiona Zhao || July 09 2014

According to Wangdaizhijia, a resouce on the P2P industry in China, there are 148 P2P platforms in total closing, already closed or facing difficulties in redemptions.

Tremendous Growth in China’s P2P Lending Platforms

Written by Fiona Zhao || July 09 2014

The latest 2014 China Online Lending Industry Report reveals that China's P2P lending platform industry has grown rapidly both in terms of number of providers and turnover.

In the 2013 annual report issued by the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC), the organization addressed the issues related to the Internet finance. What is the forward looking Internet finance strategy?

On March 1st, 2014, Shanghai FTZ has removed the cap for foreign currency deposit rates, which apply to small accounts with less than USD3 million. After the three-month pilot, the market seems to be running steadily and enterprises in the Shanghai FTZ now can ask for higher rates for their forex deposits with the banks.

With the increasing usage of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs, mobile internet is becoming a new traffic entry point for many internet players. Alibaba's free wifi deployment will facilitate their entry point.

Chinese Banks Boost Their Tier 2 Capital

Written by Fiona Zhao || June 18 2014

The 2014 year seems to be a year for banks to pad their capital base. Previous heated discussion was around Tier 1 capital sufficiency, after which additional capital has been supplemented via issuing preference shares by SPDB, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China.

Should you worry about the security issues in China?

Written by Peng Wang || June 10 2014

People prefer to keep their information in a safe place, so do nations. After the PRISM scandal information security issues has become a concern for many countries.

On April 20th, the CEO of ICBC, quoting data from internal sources, claimed that the estimated scale of shadow banking in China is around RMB15-20tn, which is relatively small in scale to GDP when compared to shadow banking in more developed countries.


In addition, the leverage used in the Chinese shadow banking industry is not as large as other countries, so he argued that it is not necessary to worry about systematic risks in the Chinese financial system, but he still admitted there are non-systematic risks caused by shadow banking industry.

However, many independent financial analysts say that the scale and risk involved of shadow banking are underestimated and there might be increasing number of events happened in 2014 around shadow banking in China.

Shadow Banking in China Big Part of GDP 2014

In recent years China's mobile internet has been developing quickly and had a great impact on people’s lives. The official figures show that by the end of 2013, China had approximately 500 million mobile internet users, a 25% increase over 2012. With the penetration of smartphones in China more users prefer to use mobile devices to deal with many daily tasks. 

Future of the rising government debt in China

Written by Denis Suslov || April 16 2014

Last month, Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology became the first company to default in China's bond market when it failed to make a full payment on the issued debt. This shows that the Chinese state is not going to back up even big private borrowers. Several other companies are also on the verge of debt insolvency, according to local media sources, with government debt also on the rise.

Accroding to the latest figures from the CBRC (China Banking Regulatory Commission), Chinese banks’ asset quality deteriorated as the balance of bad loans continued rising from RMB 492.9 billion in 2012 to RMB 592.1 billion in 2013. However, as banks wrote off significant amounts of bad loans in 2013, the bad loans ratio grew only slightly from 0.95% to 1%, leaving the asset quality in relatively good shape. The largest outstanding bad loans are from the big five banks, who have hit a 10 year peak of bad loans - in total, they have written off RMB 59 billion up significantly from 2012. 

The large amount of write-offs prevent the bad loan ratio from growing fast. In addition, Chinese banks have a relatively higher provision coverage ratio, so they are able to write off more. As China is in the middle of an economic transistion, we estimate that banks’ bad loans will continue rising as exports continue to slow and industry shifts excess capacity. Further 2014 write-offs will be supported by the CBRC’s latest guidance.

20140410 BadLoanWriteoff

Special 'Bad Loan Development Zone' in the Yangtze?

Written by Fiona Zhao || April 07 2014

Once known for its economic development zone, the rich Yangtze river delta now has become a hotbed for something else: non-performing loans. 

The latest data from big five banks’ 2013 annual report shows that the cumulative profits in 2013 were RMB 870.3 Billion, accounting for approximately 60% of the banking industry. However, comparing with previous years’ performance, the net Chinese banks' profit growth rate of 2013 has slowed with the exception of BOC, which increased slightly. This decreased profitability is mainly due to narrowed net interest margin. Last year, in the context of interest rate reform and the influence from money funds, banks have been facing challenge and forced to transform. This will likely continue to become more pronounced in the future as banks are heavily reliant on interest income rather than fee income. 

China Big Five Bank Profits Continue to struggle

How should China's Online Finance platforms be regulated?

Written by Zennon Kapron || March 24 2014

This past weekend Alibaba and Baidu met with the People's Bank of China (PBOC) in a closed door session to discuss the ongoing challenges with Chinese online finance regulation. The fact that the regulators are consulting with the industry is a great sign that the regulations will (hopefully) be built on consultation and discussion, and as both Baidu and Alibaba have intentions of setting up their own private banks, it's likely in their best interest to sit down with the regulators as well.

Chinese banks start to push back against money funds

Written by Kapronasia || March 17 2014

Over the past week news headlines have been awash with how Chinese banks are pushing back against Alibaba's Yuebao and Laicitong as the online finance products have rapidly grown their AUM at the expense of bank deposits. The banks now are expanding their push though and are challenging money funds' market share in China.

RMB/USD spot fluctuation range increase to ±2%

Written by Kapronasia || March 17 2014

On March 15, 2014, the PBOC announced that the daily RMB/USD exchange rate float range in the Chinese interbank market would increase to ±2%, which will be implemented on March 17. The chart below shows the expansion of fluctuation range for RMB/USD spot, which is meaningful to Chinese FX market.

Analysts from Kapronasia believe that it is an important step towards fully internationalization of RMB. The data below also illustrate that Chinese government is accelerating the process of internationalization of RMB. We are looking forward to further FX market reform, in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, or in the whole country in 2014.  

 

RMB interbank spot rate

In another foray from the Internet giant into high finance, Alibaba recently announced that one million virtual credit cards will be issued next week. 

File under: 'another bank losing out to money funds', but numbers from Ping An Bank show just how difficult things are getting for banks in China.

China's smartphone market might be maturing

Written by Kapronasia || March 07 2014

An interesting graphic from IDC and WSJ looks at the declining growth rate in smartphone sales in China. China's smartphone market is maturing.

Money funds in China have been around for a long time with the first launched just over a decade ago in 2003. For the most part, these funds existed in relative harmony with the banking industry and occupied a small niche in the investment market. However, the emergence of Yuebao in 2013 started to change that. Money funds have now grown significantly in prominence and present an increasing threat to traditional banking services.

Get paid to ride Taxis in China

Written by Zennon Kapron || March 04 2014

The Basics

If you haven’t been following Chinese online finance innovation industry, here’s a quick brief: leveraging mainly underlying high-yield interbank deposits as assets, China’s main internet giants including Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu have launched online finance products where users can quickly and easily move money out of their banks accounts onto these platforms. Tencent uses their nearly ubiquitous Wechat app as the main user interface which Alibaba uses their Alipay platform to distribute the products; the underlying funds are managed by an external asset manager.

The typical returns of Chinese online finance innovations are between 5-8% and greatly eclipse traditional bank deposits, which yield less than 1%. With this kind of return, it’s not surprising that consumers are moving assets over to the platforms at an astonishing rate with some funds accumulating over 400 billion RMB (~US$66B) in AUM in less than a year making the asset managers some of the largest in China.

At the same time, taxi booking apps are growing incredibly rapidly in in China’s eastern coastal cities – some with the support of the internet giants as well. Over US$40 million of investment has gone into the taxi booking apps over the past two years and it’s not uncommon to ride in a taxi where the driver will have 3-4 phones all running the apps on his/her dashboard.

Bring it together

A key part of the internet giants’ strategy has been to bring everything together in one platform. Tencent, already with a significant user base through it’s ‘whatsapp on steroids’ Wechat app allows you to invest in their online finance product called Licaitong and they have integrated a taxi booking app called Didi Taxi where you can ‘tip’ taxi drivers a pre-selected extra amount to come and pick you up.

Money for nothing and your taxi for free

So, all of the above is well and good. Where it gets interesting is the level of competition in the marketplace and what companies are doing to gain marketshare. A Chinese friend related her experience:

She initially called a taxi via Didi taxi. Didi is running a promotion where you can get 12 RMB (~US$2) back on your taxi ride when you use the app. Base fare in a taxi is 14 RMB (~US$2.33), so she paid 2 RMB (~US$0.33) for the taxi ride. But wait, there’s more…

The taxi driver then asked if she could pay using Alipay and she said yes. Why? Because Alipay is running a promotion where she could get 13 RMB (~US$2.15) back and the taxi driver then likely also received some reward. The taxi driver then gave her the 14 RMB in cash and she sent him 14 RMB via Alipay.

So let’s do the math:

 

Rider

Taxi Driver

Internet Giant

 

Change

Balance

Change

Balance

Change

Balance

Initial Ride

-14 RMB

-14 RMB

+14 RMB

+14 RMB

0

0

Bonus for using Didi

+12 RMB

-2 RMB

0 RMB

+14 RMB

-12 RMB

-12 RMB

Driver pays rider cash

+14 RMB

+12 RMB

-14 RMB

0 RMB

0 RMB

-12 RMB

Rider pays driver w Alipay

-14 RMB

-2 RMB

+14 RMB

+14 RMB

0 RMB

-12 RMB

Bonus for Using Alipay

+13 RMB

+11 RMB

??

??

-13 RMB

-25 RMB

Net

 

11 RMB

 

14+ RMB

 

-25 RMB

So basically, my friend was paid to ride the taxi. She can then take that 11 RMB and instantly put it on her online finance account where she’ll earn about 6% and the internet giants are out a combined 25 RMB.

Of course in the internet space, we’ve seen plenty of companies providing products or services for free or nearly for free, but the scope with which this is happening in China is amazing. And it’s happening more and more.

Take your lessons to go

Time is compressed here. Group buying developed over years in the US and took another couple to fade away. In China, it was started and finished in less than 3 years. Will taxi booking and online finance be similar?

Although both products are essentially in the middle of a ‘perfect storm’ of a huge potential user base, very tight liquidity (giving high overnight lending / fixed deposit rates) and tremendous mobile and internet penetration and momentum, the winds are shifting in terms of innovation and it has put fear into the financial industry.

Both banks and securities firms are feeling the pinch from internet finance. Banks are facing eroding deposits in the face of gradually liberalizing interest rates, while brokers and asset managers are seeing their customers move to relatively high-return products that carry very few fees.

Although the same ‘perfect storm’ may not be happening in the west, paying attention to how things are developing in China is important as more Walmarts and Tescos move into the banking space. Not that banks were ever really known for innovation, but here in China, it's clear that the innovation is certainly not - which is putting them in an increasingly tight position.

China banking net interest margin continuing to increase

Written by Kapronasia || March 03 2014

The latest figures from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) shows that China commercial banks’ deposit net interest margin has been increasing from 2.57% in 2013Q1 to 2.68% in 2013Q4, despite of the pressure from the interest rate liberalization.

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