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Online Banks Tied to Tencent, Alibaba Bulk Up 1 Yuan at a Time on Microloans

By Yang Ge
WeBank, the first of China's online-only lenders, has lent out more than 200 billion yuan ($29.4 billion) since its creation in early 2015. Photo: Visual China
WeBank, the first of China's online-only lenders, has lent out more than 200 billion yuan ($29.4 billion) since its creation in early 2015. Photo: Visual China

(Beijing) — Two years after their launch, new online banks linked to internet titans Alibaba and Tencent have doled out more than 300 billion yuan ($44.1 billion) in their brief lifetimes by targeting millions of entrepreneurs with microscopic loans that often carry terms of just days.

Tencent Holdings Ltd. was first out of the gate when it received a license in early 2015 for WeBank, the first of a new group of online-only lenders under a Beijing pilot program to bring private money into China’s financial sector. Since that time, the bank, which is 30% owned by Tencent, has lent out more than 200 billion yuan, with an average loan size of just 8,000 yuan.

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