News Column

Tencent stepping further into e-finance

June 26, 2014

Meng Jing

Tencent Holdings Ltd has launched securities and wealth management services on its live chat tool QQ, diving further into Internet finance.

The Shenzhen-based company teamed up with five securities firms on Wednesday to offer one-stop financial services online, including setting up securities accounts, customer services and stock exchange services, to its vast base of QQ users.

The five companies (Zhongshan Securities Co Ltd, Tongxin Securities Co Ltd, China Dragon Securities Co Ltd, Chinalion Securities Co Ltd and Guangzhou Securities Co Ltd) are the first group of securities firms to set up online finance businesses on QQ.

The social networking tool is expected to team up with more securities companies to offer similar services in the future.

Tan Yi, deputy manager of Tencent's social networking group, said that the company has a vast number of users. The top priority for Tencent, which has built its business empire on all kinds of social tools, such as QQ and WeChat, is to offer more and better services to its users.

"On the one hand, we need to identify the services that can meet the demand of our individual users. On the other hand, we need to help enterprises connect with end-users, matching their services with our users," he told a news conference in Shenzhen on Wednesday.

On the same day, Shenzhen Kingdom Technology Co Ltd, a financial software and system integration producer, announced a partnership with Tencent covering the marketing and sales of QQ.

Kingdom Technology will help QQ build the financial service platform to directly link more securities companies with QQ users.

The move is seen as Tencent's latest attempt to push further into China's emerging Internet finance sector. Tencent's rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was a pioneer in this sector in China by launching Yu'ebao last summer.

Yu'ebao, designed to make it easy for Alibaba's Alipay users to invest their idle cash and get a higher interest rate than typical bank savings deposits, has gained great popularity in China, especially among young people.

Many Internet companies have followed Yu'ebao's lead by launching wealth management services.

"Through teaming up with technology solutions provider Kingdom, Tencent certainly has serious plans about Internet finance," said Qian Haili, an Internet finance analyst with the China E-Commerce Research Center.

She said that Tencent's agreement with Shenzhen Kingdom can be seen as a counterattack against Alibaba, whose founder Jack Ma in April announced a plan to pay 3.3 billion yuan ($531.78 million) to take a controlling stake in financial software firm Hundsun Technologies Inc.

"Both of these two companies have great ambitions in Internet finance. And QQ, which has a monthly active user population of more than 800 million, can serve as a great base to promote Internet finance," said Qian.

"However, since people are used to having fun on QQ by chatting with their friends, many may find it difficult to treat it as a serious platform for wealth management," she said.


As China perfects its regulatory policies, the Chinese Internet finance sector will slowly grow to become a supplementary part of the traditional finance sector, according to a report released by BOCOM International Holdings Co Ltd on Thursday.

It quoted Zhang Xiaopu, a policy research official at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, as saying that even as China's Internet finance sector attracts more and more participants, it may trigger systemic risks, necessitating a higher level of regulation.

Yang Qingli, managing director of BOCOM, said that the rapid development of the sector stemmed from the regulatory differences between the traditional finance sector and that online, along with China's low interest rate marketization.

When the sector matures, Internet finance will supplement the traditional finance sector, and innovative commercial banks will stand out, Yang said.

"The Internet serves as a channel, and the nature of Internet finance is finance," he said. "The advantage of the channel is that at the beginning, it attracts clients, and risk pricing can be more important then, especially as China promotes the interest rate reforms."

Internet finance includes online third-party payment, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and online wealth management.

Regulating Internet finance is mainly related to the online third-party payments and is looser in China than in Europe and the United States, the BOCOM report said.

The trading volume of online third-party payments totaled 6 trillion yuan ($960.6 billion) in 2013, while in 2008, it stood at only 260 billion yuan, according to iResearch, a China-based Internet consulting group.

The asset scale of Yu'ebao, an online financial product launched by Internet giant Alibaba that focuses on money market funds, totaled 500 billion yuan by Feb 1 of this year, up from 55.7 billion yuan on Sept 1, 2013, according to Wind Information Co Ltd.

Cai Xiao

(China Daily06/27/2014 page17)

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Source: China Daily: Hong Kong Edition

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