Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

China's Raging Fintech Boom on Verge of Minting Two Billionaires

  • Fintech companies in China lead in global chase for VC funding
  • China’s richest add $185B in 2017, with 8 new billionaires

China’s booming fintech industry is on the verge of adding two new billionaires to the world’s most powerful wealth engine.

Online consumer finance platform PPDAI Group Inc. is planning an initial public offering in the U.S. this month, giving co-founder Shaofeng Gu, who owns more than 25 percent of the business, a net worth of at least $1.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ning Tang owns 36 percent of U.S. listed peer-to-peer lending platform Yirendai Ltd., giving the founder and chief executive officer a net worth of about $930 million.

“In China, one billionaire is created every three weeks,” Qiong Zhang, head of wealth management for UBS Securities in China, said in an interview.

Three Chinese fintechs have gone public in 2017, raising $2.45 billion, while two other companies -- PPDAI and online lender Jianpu Technology Inc. -- have filed prospectuses.

Eight new billionaires have emerged in China this year, while the fortunes of its wealthiest have risen faster than anywhere else, according to the Bloomberg index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. China has 38 billionaires on the index and their fortunes have climbed 67 percent in 2017 to a combined $461 billion.

PPDAI’s Gu, 38, is one of four co-founders, the company said in a regulatory filing in October. Yirendai’s Tang has served as executive chairman of the board since the company’s inception, according to a regulatory filing in April, which listed his age as 43 at the time. A representative of PPDAI declined to comment, while Yirendai didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Most of the biggest gains are in property and in technology, where Chinese companies collected the majority of fintech venture capital funding globally for the first time last year, according to a KPMG report. The world’s most valuable closely held fintech company is Hangzhou-based Ant Financial, the banking affiliate of Jack MA’s Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., which has been valued as high as $75 billion.

The wealth surge has helped give Asia more billionaires than the U.S. for the first time, according to a UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers report

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