The launch ceremony of China’s first online liability insurer, Zhong An Insurance, on Wednesday was attended by three of China’s most prominent personalities, namely Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma (Ma Huateng) of Tencent, and Ma Mingzhe, president of Ping An Insurance. Although the only one of the three operative in a traditional industry, Ma Mingzhe was the one who predicted an Internet revolution at the ceremony when he expressesd his vision of the future of the banking industry:
Bank branches will grow smaller and closer to neighborhoods, and become more intelligent and diversified. In ten years, 50% to 60% of credit cards and cash will disappear. In twenty years, the counters in banks will disappear.
Refraining from explicitly suggesting who exactly will take the place of the disappearing banks, Ma and his company was noted for making strides in the online financing industry with the launch of Lufax, a modified version of a P2P lending website that links small businesses with funders and investors. Interestingly, Ping An also acquired a more traditional bank, called Ping An Bank, which gave Ping An an advantage that few in the insurance industry enjoy.
Designed to cater to the increasing needs of online businesses for protection from liabilities, Zhong An carries with it the Internet pedigree inherited from its two major shareholders, Tencent and Alibaba. Yet these companies’ collaboration with Ping An may be a marriage of convenience, because a large insurer like Ping An was required to participate in order for the venture to obtain a business license. Nevertheless, for Ping An, Zhong An is perhaps the last step to complete an online financing edifice as envisioned by the company’s president.
Companies and brands affected
Ping An Insurance (SHA:601318; HKG:2318)
Links and sources
Beijing Times: 三马同台首秀众安保险开业