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AiBank may introduce strategic investors for sustainable growth

By Jiang Xueqing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-24 09:04
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A screenshot of AiBank's website on Nov 24, 2018. [Photo/]

AiBank, China's first direct bank operating as an independent legal entity, will introduce strategic investors at a suitable time, according to a top executive.

"Depending on the needs for business development, aiBank will push ahead with the introduction of strategic investors at an opportune time to support its healthy and sustainable development," said Li Rudong, president of the bank, at a news conference on Thursday, without giving more details.

As a commercial lender without a branch network, offering its services remotely via online banking, aiBank is experimenting with a transition of the banking industry by exploring mechanisms to deepen cooperation between commercial banks and internet companies.

Jointly established by China CITIC Bank Corp and search giant Baidu Inc, aiBank opened for business on Nov 18, 2017. It has combined the strengths of Baidu in smart technologies such as artificial intelligence with CITIC Bank's capabilities in financial services.

Both shareholders increased their investment in aiBank in July. After the issuance of 2 billion more new shares, the bank's registered capital doubled to 4 billion yuan ($576.5 million), with CITIC Bank holding a 70 percent stake and Baidu 30 percent.

"AiBank is independent in terms of human resources, risk management, financial affairs and technical operation, which allows it to deepen substantive cooperation between a mainstream commercial bank and a mainstream internet company," said Li.

Adopting the method of big data analytics, aiBank offers unsecured loans online to small business owners based on their creditworthiness without the use of property as collateral. In this way, it makes the procedure of lending to small business owners more convenient and reduces their financing costs significantly, he said.

As of the end of October, aiBank had provided 9.1 billion yuan in loans to 190,000 small business owners and granted consumer loans worth a total of 54.5 billion yuan. Its total assets reached 34.2 billion yuan as of Oct 31, and its users exceeded 10 million last week.

The bank has also developed a smart risk control system based on a wide range of data on small enterprises, including their operational data, transaction data, and industrial and commercial data.

Using more than 16,300 data tags divided into 13 categories, the risk control system can create accurate client profiles. By cross-checking various data, it helps the bank to avoid the risk of lending to people who have borrowed too much through various financing channels, Li said.

Technology is essential to the growth of the bank, of which technology investment accounted for 60 percent of its total investments this year.

"We will keep investing heavily in technologies and will increase the proportion of technical professionals to the total number of our employees," Li said.

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