(Yicai Global) Aug. 17 -- A record-breaking funding round by Ant Financial Services Group pushed investment in China's fintech sector to a new high of USD15.1 billion in the first half, almost equaling combined whole-year totals over the past half-decade, according to data from KPMG.
There were 34 investments made over the first six months, more than double the amount in the second half of 2017, KPMG reported in Chinese yesterday, citing its Pulse of Fintech report from the end of July. Five of those deals were worth more than USD100 million, including a USD14 billion C-round from Alibaba's fintech affiliate which was widely regarded as the world's biggest ever single-round fundraiser.
Many Chinese banks have been paying more attention to digital development in order to transition toward smarter banking, the report added, saying this has created a mass of opportunities business-to-business fintech service providers. Blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence were some of the key investment areas.
"We are seeing large technology companies in China enabling financial institutions," said Arthur Wang, head of banking at KPMG China. "Rather than entering the market independently, they are finding ways to use their technology to serve customers better -- making them techfins rather than fintechs. As long as they gain benefit from others applying their technology, they are happy not to play a financial services role. They would rather leave the financial services risk and control obligations to professional financial institutions."
On a global scale, fintech investment soared to USD57.9 billion, compared with USD38.1 billion in the whole of last year and gearing up to smash the record USD62.5 billion whole year figure from 2015. As well as the Ant Financial deal, Vantiv's acquisition of payments provider Worldpay for USD12.9 billion and the USD5.5 billion buyout of Denmark's Nets were major contributors.
Editor: James Boynton