Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Unit To Launch Online Bank

Chinese internet retailer Alibaba is moving into online banking through its subsidiary Ant Financial.

Yuan Leiming, Ant Financial’s finance division’s general manager, said on Thursday that Ant’s new online bank, called MYbank, is scheduled to launch in June of this year. He made the announcement in a Thursday morning interview with Reuters.

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The launch follows Alibaba’s rival Tencent Holdings own setting up its own internet bank, WeBank, which began initial operations earlier this year.

Ant Financial’s and Tencent’s new online banks are just two of several recently approved private banks, as the Chinese government looks to upgrade and modernize its largely state-owned finance industry.

More on Mybank

Ant will hold the largest stake in MYbank at 30%, with holding companies of Fosun International and Wanxiang Group each holding 25% and 18% stakes, respectively. Ningbo Jinrun Asset Management is the owner of a 16% share, with a number of other shareholders making up the remainder. MYbank was approved by CHinese regulators late last year.

The launch of MYbank is a major step in the creation of a full-fledged internet finance platform for etailer Alibaba. Moreover, this new financial platform is expected to open up services such as banking, loans and credit, insurance, payment systems and investment to hundreds of millions of Chinese who previously had limited access to financial services.

Anaysts note that Alibaba and Ant have serious ambitions for financial services in China, which until now have have mainly been focused towards larger businesses or state-owned firms, leaving both individuals and smaller enterprises with few choices for banking or other financial services.

New ecommerce index

Ant Financial also launched a new index that tracks e-commerce activities to measure firms’ performance on Thursday. The new ecommerce activity index is the  first in China, and is a natural merger of the Chinese internet shopping titan’s valuable data with its financial services goals.