Tencent to build fintech lab focused on ‘open banking’


Tencent is putting two of its key subsidiaries together in a fintech innovation lab focused on the research and development of applications for “open banking.” The joint venture is between Tencent Cloud, a global cloud services provider, and WeBank, China’s first online bank.

Open banking can be defined as a collaborative model in which banking data are shared through APIs between two or more unaffiliated parties.

WeBank’s Wei Li Dai (微粒贷) financial product was the first in China to provide consumers with a complete online lending process, from application and approval to the provision of funds. Borrowers are not required to provide collateral or security for credit, and instead only need to provide their identification numbers and mobile phone numbers through Tencent’s ubiquitous social media app WeChat and instant messaging software service QQ in order to obtain loans of between RMB500 and RMB200,000.

Tencent Cloud and WeBank’s new collaboration will be based on the concept of “open banking” to explore technical innovations on its fundamental structure, financial application and experiential innovation.

Shenzhen airport to add global routes


During the upcoming busy summer season, Shenzhen’s Bao’An International Airport will bring its international flight routes to over 50. Additions will include Rome (Italy), Nagoya (Japan) and Tehran (Iran) by Spring Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Mahan Airlines. The airport will operate another 7,500 flights on a weekly basis, according to Chinese media site Jiemian.

The number of flights to Dubai, Moscow, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore will be further increased. Long-haul international as well as regional flights will reach a total of 936 weekly.

Domestically, new routes from Shenzhen to Liuzhou (Guangxi), Changzhi (Shanxi), Linfen (Shanxi) and Aksu (Xinjiang) will also be added, while the number of flights to Beijing, Urumqi (Xinjiang), Xining (Qinhai) and Zhengzhou (Henan) will be increased.

Guangzhou Metro: one ticket for Intercity Trains


Guangzhou Metro says passengers will soon be able to use one ticket to travel within its network of four Intercity Railway lines. These include two lines running into Guangzhou North, from Qingyuan and Xintang; and two running into Guangzhou South, from Zhuhai’s Gongbei (and later this year Hengqin), and from Foshan West. The trains travel at speeds of between 160-200 kph.

The network is still being built out and expanded, and Guangzhou Metro says on its Wechat account that it is currently recruiting drivers. “In the near future, the public will be able to take trains among the cities as easily as if they take buses,” said chairman of Guangzhou Metro, Ding Jianlong. He pledged to speed up the construction of the network.


San Francisco Bay Area eyes GBA


The Bay Area Council (BAC) in San Francisco is mulling opening a new office in China’s Greater Bay Area, according to its president and CEO Jim Wunderman.

The BAC has already established four offices in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing. It has also partnered with China’s Tsinghua University, reports China Daily Hong Kong.

The council is scheduled to lead several delegations to visit China in 2019, said Wunderman. The BAC is a non-profit organization that promotes economic development in the San Francisco Bay Area and coordinates regional efforts in addressing pressing issues faced by the region.

Boston Consulting goes big in Shenzhen

DigitalBCG Asia Pacific Center

Global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is to set up its Asia-Pacific center for digital services in Shenzhen, according to Shenzhen Daily.

Scheduled to open this October, the DigitalBCG Asia Pacific Center will host a big data analysis base, a digital innovation incubator and a digital solution exhibition hall.

“We decided to set up the center in Shenzhen because the city has a lot of innovative talent who can break the boundaries of different fields,” said Hans-Paul Burkner, chairman of BCG, at Saturday’s signing ceremony with the Shenzhen Municipal Commerce Bureau.

“We also want to form a diversified team of digital experts and provide the latest solutions for Chinese and global enterprises, governments and public institutions in the digital era,” he added.

As one of the consulting firm’s three regional digital centers around the world after San Francisco and Paris, the Shenzhen center aims to leverage the company’s own data analysis methods and tools to customize digital transformation strategies for customers.

It also strives to provide digital transformation services, including data analysis, artificial intelligence, industry 4.0, IT architecture, customer journey re-engineering and digital architecture.

Nansha to offer 1,000 internships to HK, MO youth

The Nansha Free Trade Zone in southern Guangzhou has launched a new scheme to offer Hong Kong and Macau students more than 1,000 internship positions.

According to Xinhua Net, the scheme aims to offer students who have not yet entered college internship positions at over 100 companies in Nansha. They include government departments, financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and foreign enterprises.

The program includes two sessions and each lasts six weeks. The first session begins in early June and ends in mid-July, followed by the second session from mid-July to late August. Hong Kong and Macau students can follow the WeChat account “南沙青联” to complete the application by April 30.

The Nansha Free Trade Zone said via a spokesperson that its goals is to launch various supporting policies to help Hong Kong and Macau youth study, live, work or start a company in Nansha.

For those readers who haven’t yet visited Nansha, it is an easy ferry ride from Hong Kong. Besides its hi-tech park, the area is one of the most livable in the Greater Bay Area, with well-laid out streets, low density development, and plenty of green space. Apartments are a fraction of the cost of Hong Kong and Macau. We can see how young people from the SARs would be easily attracted.

Qianhai-HK mixup highlights GBA challenge

Hong Kong media blew this story out of proportion, but it is a good example of why the Greater Bay Area needs a Steering Committee ASAP: Qianhai, the special economic zone set up to boost integration work between Hong Kong and Guangdong, jumped the gun on plans to link up via railway – at a point in the far-distant future – with Hong Kong’s East Lantau Reclamation project. It was an easy and simple mistake to make, publicizing an idea that had not yet been formally communicated yet, but it elicited howls of indignation in political and media circles because the HKSAR’s development chief had not yet seen the memo from his counterparts across the border.

Qianhai reveals idea for extension of rail link with HK

Shenzhen’s Qianhai Authority has set the cat among the pigeons by revealing a proposal for an extension of the cross-border high-speed railway line that would connect to Hong Kong’s proposed East Lantau Plan, also known as the Lantau Tomorrow Vision. According to a report over the weekend in the South China Morning Post, alleged plans for the rail line’s future development have been on display on the ground floor of an official exhibition center for the pilot development zone.

In the map, the local section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link that opened in the West Kowloon terminus last year would branch out to the East Lantau metropolis, run through the New Territories and cross the border to Qianhai, joining the national network. Of course, no date has been given for any of this. Hong Kong has not even announced whether the Lantau reclamation project will go ahead yet.

Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong at the Qianhai Authority, said the preliminary idea for the rail extension was raised late last year, and the Qianhai Authority would further explore the concept before presenting it to the Shenzhen municipal government and Hong Kong authorities. But that couldn’t stop reporters from calling up Michael Wong, Secretary for Development for the HKSAR, who said he knew nothing about the plan. “I only learned about it when it was revealed in the news on Friday,” Wong said.

It was a reaction that predictably brought a surge of criticism from the usual corners about Hong Kong’s autonomy being eroded.
Read more about the plan here and about Wong’s reaction here.

Premier pledges boost for investors in HK, MO, Taiwan

China’s newly revamped Foreign Investment Law will bring greater opportunities for investors in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Premier Li Keqiang has announced. The premier further said that specifics are being worked out and will soon be clarified through detailed supporting regulations, reports the South China Morning Post.

Speaking at the Boao Forum on Thursday, Li said preferential policies that had proved effective would remain unchanged and the country would broaden market access for investment from the three regions, further opening sectors such as finance, professional services and high-end manufacturing.

Read more here. 

Guangdong research funding open to HK, MO institutions

Scientific research institutions from Hong Kong and Macau are now eligible for research funding granted by Guangdong and may use them in the SARs, according to a report in China Daily Hong Kong.

Previously, institutions from the two special administrative regions had to form joint ventures with other mainland institutions or set up branches in Guangdong.

Under the new three-year pilot scheme, which was unveiled this week, two institutions from Hong Kong and Macau will enjoy equal rights with their counterparts in Guangdong in competition for a total of RMB500 million (US$74.2 million) in funding and key sci-tech projects supported by the province.

The policy also encourages cooperation in key fields identified by the Greater Bay Area masterplan, such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

Read more here.