Biz / Tech

Shanghai seeks expansion of fintech in finance industry

Ding Yining
The city will foster 20 top financial technology companies with international recognition and influence in the next five years, according to a recent action plan.
Ding Yining
Edited by Hu Jun.

City's officials along with industry players and thought leaders pledged further collaboration and more efforts to allow fintech to play a bigger role in more inclusive financial services and to help expedite economic recovery.

Shanghai Vice Mayor Wu Qing said the city will further encourage win-win partnerships for fintech to play an even bigger role in the development of the financial industry and for the city to become a spearhead in new technology applications in the sector.

“We encourage increased connectivity and industry integration between financial companies, tech players and industry partners and we aim for breakthrough research efforts and partnership in data mining, algorithm and cloud computing to provide driving power for innovative financial technology applications," he told the keynote speech at the INCLUSION Fintech Conference. 

Shanghai seeks expansion of fintech in finance industry
Ding Yining / SHINE

"We will continue to take an open stance for technology breakthroughs and create win-win partnership while sharing viewpoints and our input for fintech development," he added.   

The three-day conference hosted by Alibaba's financial affiliate Ant Group brings together thought leaders to share ideas on digital economy, innovative technology, digital finance.

In the first eight months, Shanghai's financial transaction size reached 1,511 trillion yuan (US$222 trillion), up 16.6 percent from a year ago, according to Wu.

The city is now home to more than 1,600 financial institutions with one-third of them overseas ones.

Shanghai will foster 20 top financial technology companies with international recognition and influence in the next five years and to attract around 20 financial institutions with cutting-edge fintech capabilities, according to the city's action plan released in January.

The city also plans to strengthen technology research in artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, big data and 5G.

Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva said in her video remarks sent to the conference that digital financial services were already the primary driver of financial inclusion even before the COVID-19.

“Fintech is already playing an important part in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” emphasized Georgieva.

“It has made contactless and cashless transactions very popular and very useful. Digital financial services also enable governments to quickly expand social safety nets and help facilitate direct payments between people, in turn accelerating economic recovery.”

Ant Group Chairman Eric Jing said the new financial system shall be more inclusive, shall actively target potential customers, and more individualized. He insists that technology and data should be the backbone of new types of financial services.

The priority of Ant Group after its soon-to-be listing is to invest in technology, Ant Chief Executive Officer Hu Xiaoming noted, emphasizing that technology is at the heart of Ant Group’s DNA.

He also invites partners to join its "Alipay Plus" initiative to set up a payment network linking global merchants without having to download a separate digital wallet in a foreign country.

In May, Shanghai set up the Shanghai Fintech Industry Alliance initiated by Shanghai's state-backed financial holding group Shanghai International Group alongside major regulatory bodies and financial institutions and education institutions. 

The Shanghai Fintech Industry Innovation Center, which was unveiled by the alliance, seeks to set up demonstration zones for cross-border collaboration and joint fintech labs to bring research results into industry applications.

It welcomes established financial companies and technology startups to apply for trial projects and complement each other to improve the structure of Shanghai's position as a financial technology center.

The first eight trial projects have been released in August including smart investment advisory service, blockchain-based small and micro business financing service and digital financial risk control projects. 

Li Feng, Professor of Accounting at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said it's crucial to add more compound talent with tech skills and industry experience.

"In terms of curriculum design, higher education institutions should offer more integrated course instead of just adding simply adding financial and tech training course together," he said.

Shanghai also has a unique advantage with excellent business environment with rich education and commercial facilities, in addition to a full range of financial institutions and tech players.

But Li noted it should also work better on promotion of cross-border trade and investment as well as data exchange between public and private sectors. 

Cross-industry regulation is also crucial as financial technology enters into new growth territory, Li said. 

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