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NCF looks abroad for 50% of revenue

By HE WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-16 07:55

The CEO of fintech services company NCF Group-which is among the country's first batch of groups to obtain full-fledged internet finance licenses-said that the strategic goal of his firm is to generate half its business from overseas markets in the next three to five years thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative.

CEO Sheng Jia told China Daily during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which ended on Monday, that his company already operated in services like third-party payments, wealth management and peer-to-peer lending-but is gearing up for expansion in Southeast Asia and Europe through equity investments and technology sharing.

"President Xi Jinping's emphasis on the digital economy and financial technology suggests huge potential can be unleashed under the Belt and Road Initiative, and is a guideline to fintech firms to expand overseas," he said.

In a keynote speech addressed to the forum, Xi pledged to build a digital silk road and encouraged the integration of science and technology into industries and finance, which he said will be a boon for China's fintech firms.

NCF's Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, China Credit Fintech, led a 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) investment fund in December, seeking to nurture leading fintech firms in Asia and targeting mergers and acquisitions in fields like big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Sheng identified blockchain-a digital and traceable ledger of transactions-as a device to ride the next wave of growth under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Early this year, NCF also established a regional office in Singapore and announced plans to acquire a majority stake in Vietnam-based Amigo Technologies, marking the first steps toward expansion beyond its home turf.

"While NCF might not be a first-tier player like Ant Financial and Tencent Pay, its varied portfolio means it has enormous business opportunities in Asia," said Li Chao, a senior analyst at consultancy iResearch.

To build up its own strategic position, NCF also entered into agreement this year with leading UK universities to conduct joint studies on big data, after it made initial attempts in high-end international wealth management.

Emerging as some of the world's fintech leaders, Chinese companies commanded the largest share of fintech investment in 2016, according to a study published by Ernst & Young and DBS.

NCF's Sheng said Chinese fintech players have created platforms with the aim of embedding their financial solutions into customers' lives, which is something that can be of help to neighboring countries that lacked the necessary technical infrastructure.

"Mobile payments and online financial services are important elements of inclusive development," said Li Yang, head of the National Finance and Development Laboratory.

"Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China can share its experience with related countries and regions and bolster their development."

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