WeBank made millennials “woke" about banking

Company profile

CEO: David Ku
WeBank

WeBank鈥檚 Mission

WeBank strongly believes in 鈥楲et finance benefit the public鈥 with optimal use of technology.

Challenge

China has one of the largest millennial population (29.62%) in Asia Pacific. Tencent identified that there is a need to fill the gap in china鈥檚 banking market as 85% of millennials felt that their banks did not offer any innovative banking solutions. Chinese banks had the trust of their customers but they failed to understand millennial needs. Tencent capitalised this opportunity and introduced a neobank for the millennial population in china.

Solution:

  1. WeBank was launched by Tencent as neobank in 2014.
  2. It provides affordable, accessible, appropriate and sustainable service to millennials.
  3. WeBank is backed by WeChat to understand the millennial lifestyle and offer products and services catering to their needs.

Background

WeBank China was launched to fulfil the gaps in China鈥檚 banking market, with an aim to provide affordable, accessible, appropriate, and sustainable services for its customers. Achieving a unicorn status in the year 2018, it is the neo banking leader in assets, loans, net profits, return on equity and non-performing loans.

Shareholding Structure

Shareholder Shareholding
Tencent (Majority shareholder)30%
Baiyeyuan 20%
Liye Group 20%
Others 30%

Business Model

  1. WeBank focuses on developing convenient products with advanced and agile technologies.
  2. It maintains a clear focus on providing inclusive financial services, using a combination of modern technologies, such as cloud computing, open banking technologies, open-source databases, and artificial intelligence (AI).
  3. These technologies assist WeBank in increasing operational efficiency, reducing costs, and scaling market presence.
  4. WeBank’s product Weilidai, an unsecured loan offered through WeChat messenger application is one of the most accessible forms of financing for people in China.

People strategy

WeBank is enabling an active organisational structure that avoids complete and complicated management levels. The bank focuses on cross-functional and cross-organisational teamwork to build a fast test-and-learn product development cycle. The key practices followed by WeBank for enhancing its workforce are:

  1. Safety and accessibility: Employees must pass through facial recognition screens while entering the open layout room. If an outsider or unknown person infiltrates, CCTV cameras recognise the face and sound the alarms.
  2. Growth opportunities: WeBank pays attention to the internal employee career graphs and skill development with personalised training programs. It collaborates with global universities to train its people.
  3. Tech-savvy work environment: The bank’s walls are covered with computer monitors displaying rea-time information and corporate figures such as the number of account applicants, credit approval rates, and cash flows. The room seems ordinary, but with the click of a button, the white glass walls turn translucent, revealing WeBank鈥檚 hi-tech ecosystem.
  4. AI-supported: WeBank has no physical branched and direct sales force. The bots handle 98% of customer service inquires and complaints, making it easy for the employees by taking a burden off of their shoulders.

Partnership strategy

  1. Tencent cloud: WeBank and Tencent Cloud work together to develop industry standards and make commercial applications.
  2. Mila-Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute: This partnership seeks to protect data privacy while enabling cross-organisation collaborations in AI.
  3. OpenNodes: WeBank has partnered with Singapore government-backed OpenNodes which allows the introduction of China鈥檚 FISCO BCOS blockchain platform to academicians in Singapore to drive innovation.

Technology strategy

WeBank is built on the ABCD of technology (AI, Blockchain, Cloud computing, (Big) Data) as its strategic bases. It focuses on research and application of technology within the financial sector. The high volume and small value loans are the key drivers for WeBank to build economical technology infrastructure and serve the target segment. The average IT cost-per-account for 2019 was only $0.50, which is low, compared with most incumbent banks operating equivalent account at a cost of approximately 6 to 30 times that amount.

The four key pillars od WeBank’s technological infrastructure:

  1. Artificial Intelligence- WeBank’s chatbot and eKYC facial recognition technology handle 98% of the customer inquiries with over 640 million identity verification requests.
  2. Blockchain technology- The bank utilises blockchain technology in the areas of finance, supply chain, public services, and legal services.
  3. Cloud technology- The world’s 1st bank to fully apply its core banking systems on a private cloud. The bank has a 100% in-house-designed core banking system with self-owned intellectual properties, capable of handling high-volume, high-frequency transactions
  4. Big Data- The bank uses big data for risk management, differentiated services and precision marketing.

Top product and service offerings that make WeBank a millennial-focused bank

  1. Customers applying for credit approval can receive their application result within 5 seconds and draw funds in under 1 minute.
  2. The bank provides customers with hassle-free byte-size loans to support minimal financial requirements. It also provides easy auto loan with limited documentation.
  3. WeBank provides eKYC facility for easy and seamless account opening.
  4. The bank has different tools and plans to encourage its customers to save, invest smartly and manage their wealth wisely.
  5. The Welidai Consumer Loan provides unsecured microloan for the mass market with a credit range of 锟500鈥擄骏300K.
  6. The bank provides fast customer complaint solutions with the use of AI technology and chatbots.
  7. WeBank secures a customer’s banking process with face recognition and biometric technology.

Awards

Year Award
2018 – Leading Fintech 50 Companies
– Outstanding Innovation Bank
– Fintech Product of New Bank of the Year
– Fintech Annual Innovative Enterprise
2019 Hurun New Finance Top 100 Listed Companies

Tangible result

The digital-only bank has already begun serving over 100 million customers within four years of its establishment. Its growth trajectory makes it the largest neobank globally. The key factors leading WeBank to this point are the technology-driven innovations undertaken by the bank.

The way forward

And to stay ahead of the curve, the bank should:

  1. Study the minds of the millennial generation by creating multiple touchpoints with the help of AI-ML methodologies.
  2. Consider reconstructing the bank’s user interface which matches with millennials lifestyle.
  3. Focus on creating more innovative products and services which cater to the millennial mindset.
Note

Saksham Verma and Rajvardhan Bhatia contributed toward this research by conducting preliminary analysis and conceptualizing the topic.

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