ICBC Flags Greater Investment in Fintech as Part of Smart Bank Strategy

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The world’s largest lender in terms of assets has signalled increased investment in fintech as part of efforts to embrace a “smart bank” strategy.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is currently in the process of driving the creation of its ECOS smart bank information system and will continue to expand fintech investment in future, said Ma Yan (马雁), general manager of ICBC’s fintech department, to China Securities Journal.

Since June ICBC has launched new 5G-driven “smart” banking outlets in the cities of Suzhou and Nanjing, while on 8 May it opened its wholly invested fintech subsidiary, ICBC Tech (工银科技), in the Xiong’an district next to Beijing.

Li Liuxun (李六旬), general manager of ICBC Tech, said that the company is currently undertaking around 20 projects, including 9 projects in the Xiong’an district alone.

Li said that in future ICBC Tech will pursue strategic equity investments in outstanding fintech start-ups in areas including the blockchain and information security.

Ma said that in recent years fintech has emerged as a key area of competition for the banking sector, with ICBC’s fintech strategy distinguishing in several key areas:

  1. The use of a digitised foundation to embody smartness, openness and ecosystem, and further expansion of investment in areas including artificial intelligence in future, with exploration of the creation of smart fintech application scenarios;
  2. A focus on strong foundations, and firming up the safe and stable operation of information systems;
  3. A focus on management reforms, not just in terms of technological and operational frameworks, but organisational frameworks as well.

With regards to transitioning towards a smart business model, Ma Yan said that ICBC is currently devoting its efforts to the creation of its “core” ECOS system, covering enterprise, clients, openness and smartness.

According to Ma the central concept behind the ECOS project is the creation of an entirely new ecosystem for the high-level integration of finance and technology.

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