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April 28, 2020

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Finance gets a technology boost during epidemic

The COVID-19 pandemic, far from delivering a hit to the online economy, has actually led to significant growth of digital businesses. The number of online payment transactions increased by 47 percent from a year earlier during the period, according to China UnionPay.

Banks, financial technology companies and insurers are riding the crest of this wave by transforming their business models with new technologies.

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank recently launched what it calls the Sweet Orange application, moving its traditional mortgage business online. Customers can conduct house-hunting, file online mortgage applications and enjoy related services like property valuations via their mobile phones.

To better meet the financial needs of small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, Shanghai Huarui Bank offered short-term revolving loan products for small e-commerce operators, allowing flexible repayment plans.

With big data, the bank can calculate the value of such small companies and grant them floating-loan quotas in tandem with their logistics platforms, giving real-time access to storage, logistics and sales data.

Shanghai Shuhe Information Technology, a financial technology firm focusing on consumer credit, is a pioneer in promoting digital finance. Leveraging artificial intelligence technology and data analytics, it assists banks, insurers and consumer finance companies to serve the diverse needs of emerging prime borrowers, who are generally young, well-educated and underserved by traditional financial institutions.

China’s online finance has matured a lot in the last 15 years, but the industry still has big growth potential, the company said.

The Shanghai government’s new online-development policy will help tap that potential and continue the explosive growth of contactless financial services triggered by the pandemic, it added.

The insurance sector also is embracing new technologies to deliver better customer services. China Continent Insurance unveiled contactless online claims for car owners, allowing policyholders to use the insurer’s mobile application. On-site applications can be handled through audio and video technology within five minutes, delivering compensation within one hour.

The number of cases handled online almost doubled during the pandemic, China Continent said.

With just one click on their mobile phones, car owners can renew their vehicle insurance contracts, Ping An P&C Insurance’s Shanghai branch said. The company had more than 67 percent of its policies approved online after the pandemic.

Using big data and artificial intelligence, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance said its intelligent customer service robot, named ZhongAn Spirits, has served nearly 500,000 users online since the outbreak of the epidemic.


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