This Chinese Bank is Selling Tech to Make Itself Competitive Against Tech Behemoths

Shanghai skyline above the water.

While banks in the West are finding ways to incorporate new tech and debating over the threat tech behemoths like Google, Facebook and Amazon pose to their businesses, one Chinese bank is cutting to the chase and positioning itself as a tech company more clearly than any other.

Ping An Insurance intends to eventually generate half of its revenue from technology sales, reports Bloomberg.

For the last decade, the Chinese bank has invested heavily in technology to make its insurance, lending and asset management products more competitive. More recently, it has turned around and sold those improved technologies off to other financial firms in China and beyond.

“Our long-term goal is to drive our business on the two wheels of capital and technology,” Jessica Tan, Ping An’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, told Bloomberg. “From the standpoint of the group, we hope the two are balanced in terms of revenue and profit—equally important.”

While it doesn’t comprise more than a percentage of the bank’s current revenue, traction for Ping An’s tech selection is growing. OneConnect, a division in the company primarily responsible for selling tech to other financial firms, already has more than 2,400 clients. It’s not difficult to see why—working with Ping An’s tech can reportedly “cut the time it takes a Chinese lender to build an Internet banking platform from two years to six weeks, [enable confirmation of] customers’ identities by their voices, and analyze facial expressions to determine when borrowers are lying.”

Ping An isn’t the only Asian bank in business making a big bet on tech. At AiBank—a digital bank recently launched in partnership by China Citic Bank and Baidu—60 percent of its staff is expected to be technology personnel. And much of HongKong fintech WeLab’s scalability can be attributed to its ability to use artificial intelligence to deploy chatbots capable of handling 70 percent of its customer service enquiries.

With a valuation of $189 billion, Ping An is also in competition with the only two Chinese non-state controlled companies, Tenecent and Alibaba, who hold higher market valuations. Both technology firms are increasingly expanding their own financial service offerings—from payments to now asset management, lending, and insurance.

But Tan, Ping An’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, is betting on its cache of financial data and offline resources to make its execution ‘fairly difficult’ to replicate.

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Cadence is a fintech reporter and writer at Fintech Unltd, where she covers the changing landscape of financial technologies. Previously, Cadence interned at Psychology Today, Business Insider and the Wisconsin State Journal. Cadence is interested in how science and technology intersect with power and culture and is curious about the world we are creating for tomorrow, consciously or not. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2017 with degrees in Journalism and Chinese. Send tips and story ideas to Cadence at [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter @cadencebambenek.