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Opinion: China's "baby boom": cradle of financial reform?

English.news.cn   2014-02-27 20:10:07

BEIJING, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- China's new "baby boom" is not of the demographic variety. New financial systems and products are being born everywhere, bringing trouble to some and great expectations for many.

The financial baby boom started when Jack Ma's online currency fund Yu'e Bao (Leftover Treasure) grew from almost nothing to a global leader, with 50 million investors stumping up 400 billion yuan (65 billion U.S. dollars) in just eight months.

The very simple recipe of a low investment threshold and high yield has catapulted Yu'e Bao and partner Tian Hong Asset Management from obscurity last June, to close to the top of the world today.

The miracle bred many envious copycats who began clawing at the market, scrapping for Internet investors, even going so far as to borrow auspicious characters in their names: "Bao" means both baby and treasure in Chinese.

Niu Wenxin, a highly regarded commentator with the national broadcaster CCTV, went so far as to call Yu'e Bao a "financial parasite" draining "blood" from banks, and the new financial "babies" are now in the sights of many wily old predators.

When Niu described funds like Yu'e Bao as another "central bank" with variable yields and huge capital, his hidebound attempt to nullify the new funds like Yu'e Bao got little support. Doubts and refutation flooded the Internet: What are these funds? Vampires or messiahs?

The creator of Yu'e Bao, Alipay, is angling for floatation on the New York Stock Exchange. The proud parent company posted a long statement online, defending their fat offspring and pouring sarcastic scorn over Niu. Alipay's counterstatement has been reposted and "liked" over 10,000 times.

"Niu knows nothing about finance or innovation," said a "financial analyst" with screen name "Yufenghui".

Yufenghui thinks Niu epitomizes the old guard of monopoly finance, and it is quite clear that statements from former bank bosses say more about banks' defensive situation than the vigorous new babies.

As Yufenghui points out, a former vice president of the central bank, a former deputy director of the banking regulator and former president of the largest state-owned bank all oppose Yu'e Bao and, indeed, any online financial products.

"Dongxingguilai" declared that Yu'e Bao did not deserve such pressure because it is "neither great or vile", but basically just a money fund with successful marketing.

Other netizens just mocked Niu for "boldly" comparing the central bank to a vampire.

In fact, traditional banking is simply chasing the market. Products like "Xian Jin Bao" (Cash Treasure) and "Li Cai Tong" (Finance Key) have been cobbled together by traditional banks, rendering Niu's "parasite" metaphor something of a shambles.

The key to the dispute lies in the decisive role of market, as stressed in China's current economic reform, in setting interest rates on deposits and loans. The days of easy money from huge interest margins will soon be gone for the commercial banks, as the new babies take their first tottering steps.

(To stay up to date with the latest China news, follow XHNews on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XHNews and Xinhua News Agency on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/XinhuaNewsAgency.)

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu
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