The world has entered into anera of “mass economy.” Basedon their unmatched capacityto draw massive numbers ofusers through social networking, searchengines, and cloud computing, internetcompanies have now set foot into realms previously dominated by traditional financialinstitutions such as banks, funds,and securities firms. These newcomershave conceived ambitious plans to seizeas much of the market as they can, butare they “innovators” or “spoilers” for thefinancial industry?
Explosion of Internet Finance
“I transferred all my money to anAlipay Yu’ebao account,” smiles Li Jing, ayoung office worker with a Beijing company.“With my cell phone, I can monitor thebalance in my Yu’ebao account as it growswith each passing day.”
Yu’ebao, or Leftover Treasure, is anonline financial product co-launched byAlipay, China’s largest third-party paymentplatform and a subsidiary of the e-commercegiant Alibaba Group, along withTianhong Fund. Yu’ebao allows Alipayusers to transfer any funds into TianhongFund, which can be cashed out anytime.So far, its annual return rate has remainedsteady at nearly 5 percent, about 14 timesmore than Chinese banks’ current depositinterest rate. Especially popular amongyoung web-savvy users with meager savings,Yu’ebao netted 1 million registeredusers in only five days after its launch onJune 13, 2013.
Statistics released by Alipay andTianhong Fund show that by December31, 2013, Yu’ebao accounts exceeded 43million, with its asset scale reaching 185.3billion yuan. Thanks to cooperation withYu’ebao, Tianhong Zenglibao has becomeChina’s largest fund. It has brought profitsof 1.79 billion yuan to Yu’ebao users.
“Essentially, Yu’ebao is a currencyfund,” explains Zhou Xiaoming, vice generalmanager of Tianhong Fund. “However,it achieved innovation through incorporatingthe currency fund with China’s leadinge-commerce platform, creating somethingtotally new.”
As a result of the increasing opennessof China’s financial sector, internet financewitnessed explosive growth last year. Inaddition to Alibaba, many other internetgiants including Tencent, Baidu, Sina, Jingdong,and Suning have all conceived plansto explore the financial market.