Investors in China poured enthusiastically into the fintech sector in 2018 despite heightened scrutiny from central government regulators.
Figures from Lingyi Data (零壹数据) indicate that the global fintech sector saw at least 1097 equity financing events in 2018, for a surge of 50.3% compared to the preceding year, and a financing amount of approximately 436.09 billion yuan, for a YoY rise of 180.4%.
China was host to 615 equity financing events in the fintech sector last year, accounting for over half of the global total, and a financing amount of approximately 325.63 billion yuan, or 74.7% of the global total.
The United States and India came in second and third place in terms of fintech financing events, with 153 and 114 respectively.
Chief amongst landmark Chinese fintech investments in 2018 was the raising of USD$14 billion in funds for Ant Financial in the largest ever single global fundraising by a private company, with investors including Singapore state investors GIC Private Limited and Temasek Holdings, alongside Warburg Pincus, Silver Lake and Sequoia.
JD Finance also raised 13 billion yuan in series B-round financing, while Baidu fintech vehicle Duxiaoman Financial obtained USD$1.9 billion in funds from strategic investors.
The blockchain was a hotspot destination for fintech investment in 2018 posting a total of 451 financing events, with China, the United States and Singapore accounting for 266, 80 and 29 respectively, or 83.1% of the global total.
China’s total investment in the blockchain sector in 2018 was 15.47 billion yuan.
The surge Chinese fintech investment arrives just as Beijing steps up scrutiny of the sector and shifts its policy stance, with repeated emphasis on the notion that “fintech companies focus on technology,” helping traditional financial institutions to better serve the real economy.