When WeChat stealthily launched a Yuebao clone, named Licaibao (means a powerful tool for financial management) a couple of days ago, Alipay announced that 49 million Alipay users had contributed 250 billion yuan (roughly $41 bn) to the mutual fund Yuebao as of January 15.

The mutual fund that shows returns daily and can be withdrawn anytime for online shopping became an immediate hit in China’s financial industry and Internet industry in 2013. And it is growing increasingly fast that added 6 million users and saw 35% increase in total amount of contributions in the first 15 days of this year.

At the end of 2013, THFund became the second biggest mutual fund company in terms of the total assets under management. Now Alibaba, the controlling shareholder of the mutual fund company, claims THFund has become the largest only half a month after 2013.

After the launch of Yuebao, a dozen of similar funds emerged. But most of them are just online mutual funds and don’t have advantages Alibaba has; for instance, average risk aware users sign up to Yuebao for their money can be taken back anytime for shopping. Also, the majority of Chinese users have Alipay accounts that it takes only one click to transfer balance in their accounts into Yuebao.

It is believed the only potential competitor in near future is WeChat which has had payment capability and has integrated services from its parent company Tencent, such as the online retailer Yixun. Also Tencent has invested in online financial services or companies such as HOWbuy.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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