Improving Financial Inclusion, Sustainability And Integration In Greater Bay Area

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 3 November 2022

Ping An committed to developing financial services and technology to improve financial inclusion, sustainability and integration in Greater Bay Area.

At Hong Kong FinTech Week, Jessica Tan, Co-CEO of Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd., reiterated the Group’s commitment to growing its operations within the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Speaking at a moderated panel with Nicolas Aguzin, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Ms. Tan outlined how the Group has invested in developing financial technology, online healthcare and developed financial products working alongside institutional and governmental partners to improve efficiency and harmonize financial operations for individuals, small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and local and regional government bodies.

Conceptualized in 2017, the GBA comprises the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, and the nine municipalities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province. Highlighting the tremendous growth in both population and the economy across the region, Ms. Tan outlined how the project was still in its infancy but holds significant promise.

“With the vast majority of the cross-border e-commerce companies in Mainland China being based in Southern China and nearly 16 million migrating to the region in five years, there is definitely a lot of vibrancy and opportunity in the Greater Bay Area,” she said. “People from across Mainland China and many other countries have been attracted to the region in recent years, with the entrepreneurialism and innovative technology development in Shenzhen, especially with data scientists eagerly sought after across the market, complimenting the finance knowhow and the international outlook in Hong Kong, as it serves as an international financial hub.”

Over five years, Ping An has enhanced its presence in healthcare and technology development through the rapid growth of Ping An Health, an online-to-offline healthcare service platform, and OneConnect Financial Technology (“OneConnect”), a technology-as-a-service provider for financial institutions. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Ping An OneConnect Bank (“PAOB”), a virtual bank, has helped improve financial inclusion for SMEs as well.

Ms. Tan also outlined how Ping An’s technology subsidiaries have helped improve access to banking for SMEs, helping them secure unsecured loans by leveraging alternative data and they have also improved linkage between GBA ports. To date, 23 out of 41 ports in the region have been connected by OneConnect using blockchain technology, which has greatly improved transportation efficiency of cross border trade by more than 70% and reduced logistics costs by approximately 30%. Moreover, OneConnect has also been involved in projects to develop financial infrastructure across Southeast Asia and the Middle East.   

Ms. Tan stated her aspiration for better harmonization of banking and financial processes within the GBA, increased financial education to familiarize stakeholders with financial products across the region and increased involvement of governmental bodies to spearhead adoption of cutting-edge financial technology solutions. Ms. Tan highlighted how the Guangdong provincial government has served a key role as a major customer, to facilitate the development of an SME financing platform with OneConnect, that has benefitted 1.3 million SMEs in Southern China. In Hong Kong, PAOB has worked with the Commercial Data Interchange securing permissioned access to financial data that has facilitated quick and easy account opening for SME customers.

“Building a Greater Bay Area is a long-term project and it will be important to develop a good financial, technological and physical infrastructure at this early juncture,” she said. “In order to increase adoption of new technology and solutions, proactive governments have led the way and we see opportunities for further integration within the region and will work on developing technology to improve wealth management, healthcare and sustainability.”

Ms. Tan believes the Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect (WMC) will continue to develop in three directions: seamless online connectivity, investor education (especially significant in the current interest rate hike environment) and a strengthening of the integration of online and offline financial advisory services.  Being one of the first to participate in the pilot phase, Ping An Bank has ensured convenient online access to wealth management products, mutual funds and fixed income securities for the Northbound Scheme and helped investors in Mainland China open a cross-border investment account so they can invest in eligible wealth management products available in the Southbound Scheme, without traveling to Hong Kong or Macau. Through its technology and banking solutions, Ping An will continue to work on integrating the financial ecosystems in the Greater Bay Area.