Internet-based financial services make up the biggest category of Chinese unicorns, with entertainment services coming in second, according to a China Internet Watch (CIW) whitepaper.

Over 15% of all unicorns fall within the category “Internet Finance.” Seven of China’s top 20 unicorns provide financial services. These include Ant Financial, OneConnect, JD Finance, and WeBank.

In line with the number of unicorns providing financial services on the internet, 70% of mobile internet users make use of online payment systems. These payments totaled RMB 55 trillion in 2017 and are expected to increase to RMB 90 trillion by 2019. Additionally, almost 17% of internet users made use of financial planning services in 2017, a 3.2 percentage point increase compared to 2016.

The second most populated category is entertainment (11.7%), followed by automotive (10.4%), intelligent hardware (6.5%), online medical care (3.9%), and artificial intelligence (3.4%).

Read more: Study of 151 Chinese unicorns shows Beijing #1 city for startups

While artificial intelligence unicorns aren’t as numerous as those in other categories, China hopes to be a world leader in AI technology by 2030. Chinese AI and facial recognition company SenseTime recently became the world’s most valuable AI startup. The company was valued at $3 billion after it raised $600 million from Alibaba and other investors.

The whitepaper also mentioned the geographical distribution of unicorns across China. 41.6% are based in Beijing while 23.4% are located in Shanghai. 35% of all startups come from other cities in China.

China is home to an ever-growing number of unicorns. In March 2018, China’s Ministry of Technology said that the total value of Chinese unicorns exceeded $628 billion. It also said online finance giant Ant Financial was the most valuable unicorn in the country.  The company was followed by Didi Chuxing and Xiaomi.

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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