Baidu’s new firm has received $1.9 billion in funding that will enable it to better compete in China’s growing FinTech space.
According to The Wall Street Journal, investors included U.S. private equity giants TPG and the Carlyle Group. Baidu said that the financing will be used to develop new financial technology platforms, as well as expand the firm’s presence in China’s financial ecosystem.
Du Xiaoman Financial spun off from Baidu Financial Services Group in a move to get rid of peripheral businesses while also allowing the company to focus more on artificial intelligence. The group offers a mobile wallet service, as well as provides consumer loans and wealth management products.
By the end of 2017, Baidu’s financing business had a loan balance of 28 billion yuan ($4.42 billion).
Some of the firm’s other investors include Agricultural Bank of China and Taikang Group. The new round of funding will enable Du Xiaoman to compete in China’s fast-growing FinTech market, where the biggest players right now are Alibaba Group Holding’s affiliate Ant Financial Services Group and WeChat Pay, which is run by Tencent Holdings.
It’s been recently reported that Ant Financial, which offers AliPay, is currently in talks with potential investors to raise at least $9 billion.
But there is certainly room in the market for other companies. According to a recent study by Bain & Company and China Merchants, investible assets in the nation’s private wealth market were predicted to grow 14 percent year over year to reach 188 trillion yuan by the end of 2017.
That’s one of the reasons why TPG, which manages more than $82 billion in assets worldwide, wants to get a foothold into China’s financial services market.
“As savings and lending activities move online, technology companies are able to use their big-data analytics to offer flexible micro-financing to the younger generation of consumers,” said Chang Sun, TPG’s China managing partner.