Dong Ximiao (董希淼), researcher from the Financial Research Institute at Fudan University, has called for using banking mobile apps to improve financial inclusion and increase financial access for micro and small-enterprises in China.
In an opinion piece written for Cebnet.com.cn, Dong highlighted the unresolved problem of financing being difficult and expensive for micro and small-enterprises in China.
“This is mainly due to the high costs of customer acquisition, the high cost of risk control, the high cost of transactions, as well as the lack of collateral, which in sum involve the two aspects of trust and efficiency,” Dong writes.
Dong points to fintech as a key means of resolving these challenges – in particular the apps and mini-programs developed by Chinese banks
“Fintech can to a significant degree resolve these trust and efficiency problems, and become a key path for resolving the financing difficulties of micro-and-small enterprises.
“For this reason, in recent years domestic commercial banks have all accelerated and deepened fintech applications, with a focus on the pain points and difficulties of micro-and-small enterprise financing.”
Dong points to three models for banks to provide digitised finance to micro-and-small enterprises – the original mobile apps developed by banks for general purposes, the WeChat mini-programs developed by banks, and independent specialist apps developed by banks that are distinct from their primary apps.
Dong also points to problems however, with the mobile apps developed by Chinese commercial banks including:
- Lack of adequate follow up and maintenance following the completion of app development.
- A focus on user registration instead of active users, and a comparatively small number of usage scenarios.
- A focus on product deployment and neglect of user experience, with complex interfaces and operating procedures, making it difficult for clients to make use of apps.
In terms of Chinese banks that have made more successful use of apps to improve financial inclusion and drive financing for micro-and-small enterprises in China, Dong points in particular to:
- China Construction Bank’s “Hui Dong Ni” (惠懂你). First launched in September 2018, the CCB Hui Dong Ni app specifically targets micro-and-small enterprises and individual industrial and commercial registrants, and is comprised of both a mobile app and WeChat mini-program. The app has been visited 170 million times, downloaded over 22.5 million times, and served as a channel for 1.3 trillion yuan in credit extension to 1.65 million customers.
- Ping An Bank’s “Ping An Digital Pocket” app (平安数字口袋). Launched in December 2020, the Digital Pocket App seeks to provide “one-stop” financial services to micro-and-small enterprises with a range of loan products.
- WeBank’s “Enterprise Finance” app (微众银行企业金融). Launched in September 2022, the Enterprise Finance app is an upgraded version of the WeBank Enterprise App (微众企业爱普), which over the past three years has been used by over 2 million enterprises, and provided nearly one trillion yuan in loans. Over 90% of the app’s users are micro-and-small enterprises.