Chinese banks are betting big on the potential of fintech innovations to improve their business operations, with lenders of all sizes logging copious investment levels in 2021.
A report from Datayes (通联数据) indicates that in 2021 the big six-state owned lenders made collective tech investment of more than 100 billion yuan.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s (ICBC) tech investment totalled 25.987 billion yuan last year, while China Construction Bank’s (CCB) tech investments were 23.576 billion yuan.
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) total tech investment was 20.532 billion yuan in 2021, and Bank of China’s (BOC) 18.618 billion yuan.
Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) posted a tech investment sum of 10.030 billion yuan, and Bank of Communications (BOCOM) 8.750 billion yuan.
CCB has issued a 2021 – 2025 Fintech Strategy Plan, which calls for the “acceleration of comprehensive cloud transformation,” and making the CCB Cloud (建设银行云) the first choice for customers when it comes to financial cloud services.
BOC has established a financial digitisation committee, in order to provide overall coordination for digitised development, fintech, data management and IT management risks.
China’s joint-stock banks are also spending heavily on fintech investment in order to ensure that their business operations don’t lag behind the bigger lenders.
China Merchant Bank’s tech investment totalled 13.191 billion yuan in 2021, for year-on-year (YoY) growth of 11.58%.
For China CITIC Bank, Ping An Bank, Industrial Bank Co. and Everbright Bank the figures were 7.537 billion yuan (8.82% YoY growth), 7.383 billion yuan (2.4% growth), 6.364 billion yuan (30.89% growth ) and 5.786 billion yuan (12.35% growth) respectively.
Even some of China’s municipal lenders are starting to spend heavily on fintech development, with Shandong’s Bank of Qingdao making tech investments of 40.47 million yuan last year.
Chinese banks are also beefing up the scale of their fintech teams. China Merchants Bank employed 10,043 tech R&D staff as of the end of 2021, for a YoY rise of 13.07%.
Ping An Bank’s tech personnel (including outside contractors) exceeded 9000 as of the end of last year, for a 5.88% YoY rise, while BOCOM’s fintech personnel hit 4,539 in total, for a YoY increase of 14.16%.