Chinese insurance giant Ping An launches cloud service aimed at banks, hospitals
In development since 2013, Ping An Cloud to be foundation for transformation into technology-driven financial conglomerate, says deputy CEO
Chinese insurance giant Ping An (Group) unveiled Ping An Cloud, a home-grown cloud computing service targeted at five industries, such as finance and health care, on Wednesday.
The country’s largest insurer by market value aims to capture a share of China’s expanding but already crowded market for cloud computing with the customisable service. The other sectors it is targeting include automobiles, smart city initiatives and real estate.
It started developing Ping An Cloud in 2013 to power its own technology ambitions, including artificial intelligence and big data applications in finance and heath care, said Jessica Tan, Ping An’s deputy chief executive.
Ping An Cloud has since become the foundation for the company’s ongoing transformation into a technology-driven financial conglomerate, she said.
“The cloud is like land,” said Tan. “In the past, we have had our own land and we built our buildings and that’s it. We sell you the spaces in our building … and it’s been doing very well.
“And since we built this ‘land’, we want other people to build their own buildings on it too.”
Cloud computing allows individuals and companies to access services such as storage and analytics through the internet, without having to build their own data centres. The market has been soaring in China over the past few years, driven partly by government support. Beijing has set a target of expanding the market size to 430 billion yuan (US$62.06 billion) by 2019, from 150 billion yuan in 2015.
Ping An will face competition from Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding, which commands about half of China’s public cloud market, and Tencent Holdings, which has about 10 per cent of the market share, according to data provider IDC.
But Tan was confident Ping An Cloud would win over clients ranging from banks to hospitals, as its services are uniquely designed for such businesses, making it much easier for these institutions to move their existing systems and data onto the cloud.
She said connecting a medium-sized bank, for instance, to the cloud usually takes weeks and several personnel, because up to more than 80 offline systems can be involved. But Ping An Cloud can do it in “basically a few minutes” with the press of a button, as it has already worked out the complex linkages between systems.
“The customisation comes with understanding the architecture of different businesses,” said Tan. The company is already working with hundreds of institutions through existing technology-related partnerships, which include about 2,000 hospitals, 400 banks and 20 city and provincial governments.