Is funding drying up for China’s internet finance on tighter scrutiny?

Fundraising for internet finance platforms is declining, with the amount raised in September representing a 44pc and 55pc drop from August and July respectively

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 10:51pm

Chinese online lending platforms mostly declined on Wednesday in the A-share market, after data showed that the amount of funds raised for China’s internet finance platforms fell for a third straight month in September amid a regulatory crackdown.

The fundraising amount for internet finance platforms, including online lending platforms, cryptocurrency mining firms and blockchain-based payment system operators, dropped to 2.174 billion yuan (US$330 million) in September, representing a 44 per cent and 55 per cent drop respectively from August’s 3.86 billion yuan and July’s 4.85 billion yuan, according to latest estimates by Online Lending House, one of China’s largest internet financing data sites.

The financing deals for virtual currency-related start-ups had occurred before the Chinese authorities launched a crackdown on domestic trading in virtual currency in early September.

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Meantime, the total volume of online lending, which includes loans from individuals to individuals or to businesses through online platforms, also shrank in September.

The number of transactions recorded by online lenders fell 2.2 per cent in September to 194.2 billion from August, with Zhejiang province posting a more than 40 per cent plunge, according to separate data from financing and loan service site rong360 on Tuesday.

In September, 50 online lenders ran into difficulties, which was double the number for August. Among them, 23 experienced difficulties in paying back users for their money, 12 suspended their businesses, while eight saw their bosses flee the business.

The declines came as local Chinese governments tightened scrutiny of the nation’s rapidly growing online lending sector on concerns that it is adding risks to the financial system.

Local authorities in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen, and Guangdong have stepped up controls in the past year, after the country’s top banking regulator unveiled measures targeting online lending platforms in August 2016.

In July, financial regulators in Shenzhen issued more stringent requirements for online lenders, requesting them to open settlement accounts with Shenzhen branches of China’s commercial lenders, and to store their financial system data in the city.

On Wednesday, Shanghai-listed Hundsun Technologies, which operates several peer-to-peer (P2P) online lending platforms, fell 1.5 per cent to close at 54.02 yuan. Shenzhen-traded JPMF Guangdong dropped 2.2 per cent to 8.1 yuan. Yongyou Network Technology, a software developer that has shifted its business focus to internet finance in recent years, sank 4.4 per cent to 23.98 yuan. Suzhou Thvow Technology and Citychamp Dartong shed 1.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent each, trading at 9.94 yuan and 7.49 yuan.