Alibaba finance arm Ant Financial to launch online bank in June
BEIJING – Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s affiliate Ant Financial will launch its planned online bank called MYbank in June, a group executive said on Thursday, as China’s internet companies increasingly encroach upon the turf of traditional banks.
The June launch was disclosed by Yuan Leiming, Ant’s general manager of its finance division, in an interview with Reuters. It comes after Alibaba’s arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd’s own internet bank, WeBank, began trial operations in January this year.
Ant’s and Tencent’s online banks are among several recently approved private banks, as Beijing looks to shake up its stodgy and largely state-owned finance industry.
Ant Financial will hold a 30 percent stake in MYbank, while subsidiaries of Fosun International Ltd and Wanxiang Group will hold 25 percent and 18 percent stakes, respectively. Ningbo Jinrun Asset Management will own 16 percent and other shareholders the remainder. The bank won regulatory approval last year.
For the Alibaba family, MYbank’s launch is a step toward building a full-fledged internet finance platform, which Ant says will open up services like banking, loans and credit, insurance, payment systems and investment to new tiers of Chinese society.
Alibaba and Ant have big ambitions for financial services in China, which have traditionally been geared toward larger and state-owned businesses and neglected individuals and smaller enterprises.
On Thursday, Ant Financial also officially rolled out an index that tracks e-commerce activities to gauge firms’ performance, the first of its kind in China, marrying the country’s dominant internet shopping giant’s data troves with its financial services aspirations. – Reuters