Chinese Insurance Giant Ping An Bets on Blockchain, AI, Cloud in Fintech Push

Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen ChinaImage: Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen, China, dcmaster, Flickr

Ping An Insurance, the largest insurer by market value in mainland China and second-largest life insurer in terms of premiums, is betting on technologies including blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud to pursue its fintech push.

At the firm’s Investor Day in Shenzhen last week, themed Core Finance, some of Ping An’s top executives delivered presentations and analysis of Ping An’s value, retail banking business transformation, risk management of investment, and technology strategy in life insurance.

Jason Yao, CFO and chief actuary of the group, said:

“We will further improve the strategy of Finance + Technology and pursue Finance + Ecosystem.

“By leveraging five key technologies, namely AI, blockchain, cloud, big data, and security, we will keep improving efficiency, lowering costs, optimizing user experience, and strengthening risk control, to enhance competitiveness.”

Ping An’s Finance + Technology platform, part of the firm’s “pan financial assets” strategy, offers customers insurance, banking and asset management.

Under its “pan healthcare” strategy, the company uses a Finance + Ecosystem platform to offer Internet users five ecosystems covering financial services, healthcare, auto services, real estate services and Smart City services.

Ping An has been an early adopter of blockchain technology. In August, the group jointly cooperated with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to build an international trade financing platform based on blockchain technology.

With 179 million customers and 485 million Internet users, Ping An is one of the largest financial services companies in the world.

The firm’s wholly owned fintech offshoot, Ping An Technology, develops and operates the mission critical platforms and services that support the insurance, banking, investment and internet businesses of the group. It is also the technology incubator for the group.

From this wellspring came startups including peer-to-peer lender Lufax Holding, healthcare portal Good Doctor, also known as Ping An Healthcare and Technology, and Ping An Healthcare And Technology, a mobile app for booking hospital visits.

Good Doctor is the country’s largest healthcare and online medical platform. In 2017, the company posted a net profit of 10.8 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion).

Good Doctor, the conglomerate’s first Hong Kong-listed fintech spinoff, raised US$1.12 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) in April.

Lufax Holdings, which became profitable for the first time in 2017, is planning a Hong Kong listing this year that could value the spinoff at about US$60 billion.

Earlier this year, Ping An unveiled plans to invest up to US$15.8 billion in fintech in the next ten years.

Daily News: Can China Destroy Bitcoin? / Yobit Pumps (and Dumps)

China has been accused of being a threat to Bitcoin as Chinese mining pools control 74% of the network hash. We look at what mining pools are and my take on this threat. Bitfinex halted fiat deposits, suggesting their relationships with central banks isn’t stable. Yobit exchange is promoting pump and dumps – something that is entirely unethical and meaningless.

0:40 Market analysis

1:37 China to Destroy Bitcoin?

3:46 Bitfinex halts deposits

4:37 SEC Expands Crackdown

6:10 Yobit Pumps (and dumps)

Bitmain Adds 5 New Billionaires to China’s Wealthiest List

China’s latest rich list for 2018 sees five billionaires joining China’s wealthiest for the first time thanks to Bitmain’s market lead on cryptocurrency mining.

The Hurun Research Institute 2018 Hurun Rich List now includes Bitmain’s founders, CEO and Vice President. The five have a combined wealth equalling nearly $9 billion USD.

Bitmain Billionaires

Though Jihan Wu is the name most associated with Bitcoin, co-founder Ketuan Zhan is the largest shareholder of Bitmain. Wu owns 20.25 percent and Zhen 36 percent. Co-founder Zhaofeng Zhao owns 6.26 percent.

According to the Hurun Rich List Zhan is worth over $4 billion, Wu over $2 billion, and Zhao with Bitmain colleagues Yuesheng Ge and Yishuo Hu coming in at under one billion in USD, but hitting the list as billionaires in Chinese yuan.

Cryptocurrency Mining Market Dominance

Wu, an analyst, and equity fund manager translated Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper into Chinese and, convinced by Bitcoin’s potential, pitched the idea of developing ASIC chips to Zhan. Bitmain was created in 2013 and has the monopoly on ASIC miner machinery as well as running Antpool, one of Bitcoin’s most powerful mining pools.

Bitmain’s monopoly on ASIC miners covers 75 percent of the global market with a market value of over $2 billion. Since 2017 Bitmain has raised nearly $800 million in funding. Since June 2018, Bitmain has been spending on deals and acquisitions including purchasing a stake in web browser Opera.

Financial Disclosure and IPO

Bitmain is set to make around $10 billion in revenue this year and could be worth between $12 and $18 billion. Recent fundraising by Bitmain, with a target of $1 billion is part of a pre-IPO strategy. Bitmain plans to take the company public, by listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, plans that have been open to debate due to Bitcoin’s recent losses. It seems the IPO is set to go ahead later this year.

The mining giant reportedly holds a balance of around $900 million in cryptocurrency assets compared to just over $340 million in fiat currency.

Bitmain Looking to Launch Canadian Bitcoin Mining Operation

Bitmain’s two closest rivals, Canaan Inc. and Ebang International Holdings are also planning IPOs in Hong Kong with a similar strategy to raise funding to pursue market dominance.

In anticipation of the IPO, Bitmain publicly disclosed its finances for the first time following a KPMG audit.

Joining Bitmain’s leaders on the 2018 Hurun Rich List are also Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, OKCoin founder Star Zu, and Ebang International Holdings founder Nangeng Zhang.

Recently Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen made the Forbes 400 rich list, making him the first to join the list with wealth earned solely from cryptocurrency. Larsen is worth around $2.1 billion.

Do you think 2019 will see more crypto billionaires emerge? Share your thoughts below!

Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock