Business / Technology

Inclusive finance soars 'in middle of a whirlwind'

By Meng Jing in Hangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-03 08:18

Even a pig can fly if it is in the middle of a whirlwind. When it comes to companies, in a financial whirlwind a good company can really take off - and a great company can soar.

For Chen Long, chief strategy officer of Ant Financial Services Group, internet-enabled inclusive finance is "at the middle of the biggest whirlwind in China" because it is in sync with the country's effort to shift its economic powerhouse from investment-driven to consumption-driven.

Ant Financial is the giant Chinese micro lender which according to Forbes has grown within three years to a $60 billion valuation and which operates the nation's dominant online payments service, Alipay.

"China used to rely on big investment and big projects to spur growth and it is difficult for small-and-micro enterprises to get a loan from banks due to the lack of credit records," Chen said.

"With the focus shifting to use consumption to drive growth, it is important to support the development of micro-and-small businesses because they can produce various products specifically tailored to the increasingly sophisticated demands of Chinese consumers," he said.

According to Chen, a small business loan from traditional banks is usually millions of yuan. But the average loan size provided by Ant Financial's internet bank is less than 40,000 yuan ($5,989).

Inclusive finance is one of the major topics of the G20 summit scheduled from Sept 4 to 5 in China's eastern city of Hangzhou with a theme of "Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy."

Three documents, including a set of high-level principles of digital inclusive finance, will be discussed during the summit to guide the sector's development globally.

Chen, who participated in drafting the high-level principles, said that China has not been a worldwide leader in traditional finance. "But in terms of digital inclusive finance, the country has made some great achievements that have been recognized by the rest of the world," he said.

A good inclusive finance model, said Chen, lies in its accessibility, affordability, quality and sustainability in terms of commercialization.

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