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Tencent’s CICC tie-up shows Chinese fintechs’ next steps

Chinese fintechs have been redrawing the map of financial services for a while now, and Tencent has just added the latest amendment.

WeChat mascots are displayed inside Tencent office at TIT Creativity Industry Zone in Guangzhou, China

The mainland internet company, owner of the WeChat messaging app that has become ubiquitous in Chinese life, has bought a 5% stake in CICC, one of the country’s most storied brokerages.

These are two big names. Tencent might not have quite the global brand recognition of Alibaba and its mobile payments arm Ant/Alipay, but domestically it is exceptionally powerful. 

WeChat has 938 million active monthly users, roughly equivalent to three USs. It is used constantly by people in China, not just to communicate but to pay for things and transfer money, accounting for 40% of mobile payments in China and with links to a million offline merchants. 

CICC started life as a joint venture between Morgan Stanley and China Construction Bank in 1995, the first of many international securities joint ventures – although Morgan Stanley has long since sold out. 

Today it is among the domestic leaders in securities, wealth management and asset management. Although pushed down underwriting league tables by domestic powerhouses such as China Securities, CITIC Securities and Guotai Junan Securities, it remains a top-10 player domestically on both debt and equity capital markets underwriting.

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