Big banks strike partnerships with technology companies as part of fintech wave
From rivals to allies, banks and disruptive internet majors in China are teaming up with each other in search of better synergy.
Bank of Communications, the nation’s fifth biggest lender, joined with Suning Holdings and its financial affiliate Suning Finance as strategic partners last week, the latest of the big five banks to ally with internet firms.
So far, all big-five banks, accounting for more than one-third of China’s banking assets, have allied with technology giants. s.
The groups will work together in areas including smart finance, financing, and cash management.
“It’s a win-win deal for both banks and internet firms,” said Zhang Xingrong, managing director at BOC Institute of International Finance. “The trend may well continue as more lenders work together with tech firms.”
Through joint cooperation, banks can expand their customer base in a more efficient way, expand income sources by offering more financial services, and jointly explore better risk control models using advanced fintech, or financial technology, he said.
Alibaba Group, its financial affiliate Ant Financial, and China Construction Bank led the big-league alliance in March. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China allied with e-commerce major JD.com for cooperation in sectors including fintech, retail financing, corporate credit and asset management. Agricultural Bank of China agreed to work together with dominant search engine operator Baidu. Bank of China and Tencent Holdings jointly set up a fintech lab, focusing on cloud computing, big data, block chain and artificial intelligence.
Earlier this month, mid-sized Industrial Bank and JD.com’s financial affiliate JD Finance launched a debit card in Beijing and most cities in affluent Zhejiang province.
Under the scheme, to be expanded nationwide from September 1, once the savings surpasses 1,000 yuan (US$150), the surplus will be automatically transferred to an authorised JD Finance account to invest in a money market fund in search of higher returns than those offered by savings deposits.
Tang Jianwei, an analyst at Bank of Communications, said through cooperation, banks can make better use of its existing customer base by riding on tech companies’ innovation capability. They can also reach out to new customers in new platforms, such as e-commerce and social media.
Tech firms also need to make use of banks’ strengths in risk control, customer base and network for new growth, amid a tighter scrutiny on the internet finance industry, analysts said.