Via Forbes : Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba’s finance arm today unveiled a smartphone app that lets users buy into hundreds of Chinese funds, as the company continues the push to become the country’s dominant online financial services provider.
The wealth-management app, Ant Fortune, offers 900 products from more than 80 Chinese fund institutions without charging commission fees, according to an Ant Financial statement. Users will also be able to invest in Ant Financial’s money-market fund Yu’E Bao and buy products from Zhao Cai Bao, an online platform connecting small businesses and individual borrowers with investors. Zhao Cai Bao oversaw $40.7 billion in transactions by the end of July, according to Ant Financial.
About 70% of China’s population doesn’t buy any wealth management product, as most financial products are designed for high net worth investors and portfolio managers, according to the company. “Ant Fortune aims to provide investment options for those who are left out by the current wealth management products by lowering the entry threshold, and for those who have little time or ‘know-how’ to grow wealth,” Leiming Yuan, general manager of Ant Financial’s wealth management unit, said in a statement.
Through Ant Fortune, users can also check stock information in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong bourses. The app works with Nasdaq to provide real-time data on all U.S.-traded equities as well. Yuan said in the statement the company is planning to bring fund products from Hong Kong, so investors can indirectly tap global markets.
Ant Financial’s push in online financial services comes amid heightened regulatory attention. China’s central bank last month proposed to limit payments made through online payment platforms including Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Payment. The draft regulations have triggered an online backlash with critics saying the central bank is stifling innovation and protecting the interest of state-owned banks, which have long lobbied for stricter rules against Internet-payment companies as they face tougher competition from the likes of Alipay.