SCMP: Ping An plans to be advanced tech provider for Hong Kong banks

Ping An OneConnect, a virtual bank licence holder and the fintech arm of Ping An Insurance, is developing a range of technology that can help manage fraud and loan default risks, with artificial intelligence, blockchain and micro-expression recognition among technologies that can be harnessed.

Jeffrey Ng, head of fintech solutions at Ping An OneConnect, said technologies such as micro-expression recognition and natural language processing could be used to enhance the customer due diligence process, especially when lenders are struggling with a lack of access to information on clients.

“Professional services are the missing part of Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem, we are trying to improve the relevant technologies through the fintech services we will be providing,” Ng said on the sidelines of a banking conference in Hong Kong to South China Morning Post.

Before granting the first batch of virtual banking licenses in March, the HKMA issued draft guidelines which specified the need for applicants to focus on services to retail clients and small and medium-sized enterprises. Ng said Ping An OneConnect would over time be in a position to help other financial institutions with their daily operational needs.

He said natural language processing technology, a form of AI, could be used to help other banks or financial institutions during their loan collection process. For instance, the technology could be used to help automated collection officers monitor the language and tone used by delinquent borrowers.

Ng said other technology such as big data and blockchain could also be used to provide supply chain financing to buyers and sellers of products. “The challenge for banks currently in providing [the supply chain financing] in Hong Kong is that banks are making their lending decisions based on the credit profile of the procurement buyer … What we introduce to the market are services that are based on data,” Ng said. He said blockchain could be used to secure counterparty confirmation, based on which the bank could provide financing to suppliers.

Earlier this year, Ping An Insurance (Group), China’s largest insurer by market value, was making plans for an initial public offering of OneConnect in Hong Kong that could raise up to $1 billion, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited unnamed sources.

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