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China: The frontier of networked money – China’s latest business and technology news


In the last two years, China has gone from a country without credit cards to a cashless society where even beggars use mobile phones to accept payments.

Equally noteworthy is the growth of financial technology, or fintech: the marriage of banking and financial services and networked technology. One sector of fintech that has boomed over the last few years is peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and financing. At the height of frenzy for P2P in 2015, there were nearly 3,000 companies in China that served as platforms where people could act as investors and finance or lend to companies and individuals, or ask for loans themselves.

The number of P2P companies has been reduced through attrition and government regulation, and a few strong players are emerging:

  • Caixin reports (paywall) that P2P platform PPDAI Group has announced plans “to raise up to $350 million through a New York initial public offering (IPO).
  • In September, online-only insurer ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance raised $1.5 billion in an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • The South China Morning Post reports that shares of Qudian, a leading online consumer credit provider, “surged nearly 46 percent to US$35 on its debut trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning.” Aside from fierce competition in the sector, the SCMP says that “Qudian has one other worry — potential competition with its principal shareholder Ant Financial,” which is, like the SCMP itself, an Alibaba affiliate.  

In other news from the frontier of networked money:

  • Bloomberg reports on how huge numbers of bankers and traders use Tencent’s social app WeChat “for everything from distributing research to soliciting orders.”
  • Caixin reports that search giant Baidu has joined Hyperledger, an industry alliance dedicated to advancing “cross-industry blockchain technologies.” Chinese telecom equipment leader Huawei Technologies is already a member, as are Samsung, Cisco, IBM, and Airbus.

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.