Business / Companies

Licai achieves huge success in first six months

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-06 10:19

How long does it take for a new company to emerge in China's already fiercely competitive peer-to-peer Internet finance sector? The answer is six months, as long as it has solid resources beyond cyberspace.

Lianjia Licai, a P2P lending platform backed by Homelink Real Estate Agency Co, China's largest pre-owned home broker, has made such an eye-popping ascendancy.

Launched just in November, the platform attracted 4.5 billion yuan ($725 million) worth of investment transactions during the second quarter, a 275 percent surge on its first three months.

The turnover already makes the website China's fourth-largest P2P lending platform nationwide, according to, the lending information site, ahead of well-established players such as Lufax, a platform backed by Ping An Insurance (Group) Co of China Ltd.

"Everyone is talking about it," said Meng Fan, a 29-year old office worker who has already invested on Licai. "The biggest complaint is investors cannot subscribe to the limited products."

Interest in the new site became even more intense in July. Wei Yong, president of Homelink's finance business department who oversees Licai, told China Daily it took an average 26 minutes during the second quarter for a wealth management product to sell out.

Suddenly in July, most of the company's products were fully subscribed in a second. The craziness even baffled Wei.

Fewer available properties might be a reason, but "a larger factor may be the stock market rout since late June", Wei suggested, which drove disheartened investors to the property-dominated site.

What made the website, little known just a few months ago, into an up-and-comer in the industry?

All products offered in Lianjia Licai came from Homelink's offline funding deals. A predominant player in Beijing which accounts for more than half of the city's pre-owned home sales, Homelink is represented in practically every neighborhood in the capital.

"All of Homelink's 30,000 agents are looking for deals to put on Licai," Wei said, adding that the company's turnover this year is expected to hit 400 billion yuan, and 1 trillion yuan by 2017.

Long before launching the website, Homelink started lending money to home sellers who have outstanding mortgage. Sellers have to pay off their debts before selling the property to buyers. Sellers quickly pay the debt after receiving down payment from buyers. The short-period funding need, which offered an interest rate much higher than bank loan, used to be addressed by Homelink's own fund. Now online investors are given the chance to be creditors.

"Banks have little appetite for such short-term, small borrowings, so we filled a gap in the market," Wei said. "Around 40 to 50 percent of sellers have such need."

Now such business accounted for 45 percent of the products on Licai, according to its quarterly report. Some 28 percent of the site's products are being used as down payments. About 21 percent of the total is lent to existing property owners, who borrow funds, using their property as collateral.

Wei describes the service as offering a rare combination of safety and a high-return rate (8 to 10 percent annualized, for a 1-3 month product, and Licai offered guarantee to investors' principal as well as return) and that explains its huge popularity.

Despite the success, Wei said Licai has no plans to expand its offerings beyond property-related transactions. "That's not what we are familiar with, or good at doing," he said."

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