Shanghai sets up data trading platform in latest push to boost city’s profile as tech hub

The government of the Chinese city wants it to retain its role as a leader in innovation in the face of stiff competition from other cities

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 2:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 November, 2017, 11:04pm

Shanghai is building a mammoth electronic platform to trade data such as personal credit records and consumer information, as part of the city’s efforts to stay ahead of others at the forefront of technological innovation in China.

Keven Tang Qifeng, chief executive of Shanghai Data Exchange Corp, told the South China Morning Post in an interview that the company aimed to account for one-third of national data trading volume by 2020 while helping the city draw more promising technology businesses.

“The overall market size is expected to reach 100 billion yuan (US$15 billion) in 2020, and there is already strong demand for buying and selling data sets now,” he said. “We will help companies improve their business efficiency by making better use of the data.”

The city of Shanghai has been rolling out a series of incentives to draw tech companies and talent from around the globe as it seeks to retain its status as China’s economic locomotive amid rising competition from other cities.

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Shanghai Data Exchange was established in April at the instigation of the city government. It is based in the city’s Jingan district, with the district government providing land for its offices and some of the data for trading.

“Digital businesses are hungry for data and a trading platform is needed,” said Cao Hua, a partner at Unity Asset Management. “Shanghai will do more to attract more technology firms in future to promote more digitalised commerce.”

Big data technology, or analysing and processing complicated data sets to accurately assess risks of transactions such as in granting credit or spotting consumer demand, is being widely adopted by Chinese e-commerce, fintech and other firms. Tang estimated that in 2017, the total transaction value of data among mainland businesses could be as high as 20 billion yuan.

Shareholders in the exchange include state-owned telecoms companies China Telecom and China Unicom and privately owned data service provider Zamplus Technology. The exchange’s registered capital is 200 million yuan and its clients encompass financial institutions, internet firms, manufacturing businesses and government authorities.

The exchange allows trading of unprocessed base data such as personal information, credit records and figures related to commercial transactions. It uses encryption technology to ensure privacy when data related to consumer behaviour and corporate operations is traded.

Clients will be exempt from paying a fee to the exchange for the transactions conducted on the platform before the end of 2018, Tang said.

Among other plans Shanghai has to boost its profile as a tech hub, several multibillion-yuan government-backed funds have been created to bolster technology start-ups, while the authorities are also studying how to offer easier access to funds, lighten tax burdens and lower office costs to attract more prospective digital businesses.