The competition between humans and robots has reached China’s financial advisory sector. Jimubox , a financial technology company which is better known as a peer-to-peer lender, has developed an online app that uses algorithms to provide investors with the financial advice they might once have got from a living, breathing, analyst. “Analysis can be standardised, as you can imagine – when you ask 30 individuals aged 30 with similar backgrounds about their investment needs, their answers are more or less the same,” said Dong Jun, who co-founded Jimubox.com in 2012 as a P2P lender offering fixed-income products to investors. “Users just need to answer 10 to 15 questions, our platform can then give out the investment advice. “Making use of big data and built-in algorithms, we can provide some standardised financial advisory services which are originally handled by humans.” READ MORE - China sets rules for online lenders as it vows to cleanse the market The feature called ‘Jin Nang’ (a Chinese phrase that literally means a small brocade bag, but also refers to advice in Chinese traditions) provides investment tips from real, live analysts, private bankers and academics, but also has a feature that can generate a standardised investment plan for users based on basic information by using data and algorithms. Dong calls the feature “Idea 1.0”. Demand for private banking services is huge, but human services are often too expensive for many middle class workers, meaning much of the market is untapped, Dong said. The platform adds investment choices to the standard fixed-income products, allowing users to choose from a wider rang of products, such as mutual funds and US-traded shares. It also has a feature named “read in seconds” that can complete an approval for a loan of up to 20,000 yuan within 15 seconds. “We are moving in the direction of automated investing. As a real fintech [financial technology] company, our aim is to integrate technology and the internet, not just to change the names of some traditional services,” Dong said. READ MORE - Online lending risks escalate on mainland China amid scandals The internet and technology could help reduce trading and financial costs so more people can afford the services, he added. For example, the fee for trading US shares starts from US$1.99 per transaction. Automated investing services, also called robo-advisers, have emerged as a new force in the US’ wealth management industry attracting people who believe that algorithms can offer dispassionate advice at lower prices. New York-based Betterment, founded in 2008, is one of the world’s most popular online investment platforms and is dubbed “the Apple of finance”. Dong said “Idea 2.0” was in the pipeline and that it would enable users to set more personal preferences to customise their investment portfolio. He said the automated services would definitely challenge the traditional banking industry, but that the company was taking things in small steps at the moment. “We intend to grow slowly as we believe it takes time to build users’ experience, on the other hand, we want to better manage risks,” Dong said. China’s banking regulator last month issued a draft rule to rein in the P2P lending industry, setting some restrictions and defining such businesses as internet financing intermediaries. “A stricter regulatory framework will benefit Jimu and the industry as a whole as it helps drive out bad money,” he said.