The mainland launched its biggest over-the-counter equity trading platform in Shenzhen this week.
The Qianhai Equity Exchange is aimed at increasing access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and offers much looser listing requirements than the main stock exchanges.
The move is part of a series of policies to ease financing difficulties for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which authorities see as vital to transforming the mainland's growth model away from reliance on capital investment and for promoting growth in technology and service industries.
The Qianhai exchange started with 1,200 firms making their debut, easily surpassing the so-called New Third Board, a network of four regional markets, the largest of which is based in Beijing's technology district.
Only about 200 firms had listed on the New Third Board at the end of last year, despite pilot projects under way since 2006.
Of the new Qianhai exchange firms, 40 per cent are tech firms. About 80 per cent are registered in Shenzhen.
Fund-raising costs for listed companies on the Qianhai board will be one tenth of the costs of the main boards, the chairman of the exchange, Hu Jizhi, was quoted as saying by local media.
Hu said the exchange was guided by the principal of the "10 nos".
These include no administrative approval required for listing, no changes required in corporate structure, no custodial fees, no mandatory information disclosure, no restrictions on trading hours, and no strict division between primary and secondary markets.
This contrasts sharply with the stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, where approvals for new initial public offerings have been frozen since October.
Listings on China's main exchanges were suspended after the securities regulator ordered underwriters and auditors to review the accuracy of IPO application materials and investor complaints that new IPOs were depressing prices of existing shares.
Other steps authorities have taken to help SMEs gain access to financing include a high-yield bond market launched in June last year.
Citic Securities is the largest shareholder in the Qianhai exchange, with a 27 per cent stake, followed by Guosen Securities, with 22 per cent, and Essence Securities, with 18 per cent.