Internet majors, banks edge closer to fintech success

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-24 08:42

China's internet giants that forayed into online finance are now joining hands with banks, their perceived competitors, to succeed together in the booming financial technology or fintech sector.

The latest such partnership is between Tencent Holdings Ltd and Huaxia Bank Co Ltd, which was announced on Thursday.

The duo plan to co-develop an anti-fraud lab, a financial services cloud, and an artificial intelligence-backed customer service platform, based on their existing collaboration in data security, credit card services and online payments.

Tencent already works with over 200 banks and financial institutions by sharing its big data and cloud computing capabilities, Tencent said in a text message to China Daily.

Tencent's peers, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which together comprise China's "Tech Trinity", are jostling for supremacy in the internet finance segment. The two already have partnerships or collaborations with the nation's top lenders.

For instance, Alibaba inked a deal in March with China Construction Bank Corp that allows sales of the latter's wealth management products through Alipay, the mobile payment tool of Alibaba.

CCBC also has a similar arrangement with Alibaba's Ant Fortune platforms.

Earlier this week, Baidu pledged to build an intelligent bank with Agricultural Bank of China Ltd that would employ technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Inc, another e-commerce major, has also joined the fintech partnerships fray. It is working with ICBC, China's largest bank by assets, on fintech, retail banking, loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and consumer finance.

Li Chao, a senior analyst at consultancy iResearch, said: "All these fintech deals suggest the players concerned are playing to their respective strengths or trying to dominate a particular niche."

"For instance, Alibaba and JD tend to leverage retail-related scenarios, so they've exhibited a peculiar interest in retail banking and consumer finance. Meanwhile, Baidu and Tencent are doubling down on artificial intelligence and cloud computing, something that they've heavily invested in," Li said.

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