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Bank Investor says Online Bank to be Launched Soon, Backed by Xiaomi

Bank Investor says Online Bank to be Launched Soon, Backed by Xiaomi
After being officially established and rebranded recently, according to one of the venture's investors as reported in the media, a Chinese online bank backed by smartphones and home appliances maker Xiaomi Inc  is set to launch its services soon.
Shareholders and regulators had approved the name Sichuan XW Bank for the lender, said New Hope Group Co Ltd in a statement on Tuesday.
"This is an important step in the process, marking (the bank's) the official establishment," said the statement, citing an unnamed person in charge at the new bank.
"(The bank) will be officially open to users in the near future."
With the aim and hope of tapping into the underserved market of small enterprises and consumers in China, there has been the launch of a string of  online banks backed by Chinese tech companies and the Sichuan XW Bank is the latest such a string of new online banks.
Before MYBank, a venture controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, started an online bank in China, WeBank, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, became China's first operational online-only bank in 2015.
The worth of Xiaomi is estimated to  be valued at $46 billion in its last fund-raising in 2014 and in recent years, there are rising doubts about the worth of the company due to a shrinkage in the sale of smartphones of the company as the latest venture by the company comes as Xiaomi is trying to fight this perception created by the fall is sale and revenues.  In addition to hopes of generating revenue from its software eco-system, the company is now pinning profit growth hopes on sales from smart home devices.
The rebranding with a picture of the new bank's logo posted on Twitter-like social media site Weibo was revealed on Tuesday by Xiaomi CEO and Chairman Lei Jun.
While declining to comment on a potential launch date, a Xiaomi spokeswoman confirmed the company's official English name.
Financing is made difficult for small private enterprises as China's traditional banks largely serve state enterprises and are overwhelmingly state-owned.
Beginning in 2014, by releasing batches of private banking licenses, the government has sought to remedy the issue. New banks in China's northeast industrial rust belt are included in the latest batch, released on Wednesday by the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
A joint venture of several investors including Xiaomi subsidiary Sichuan Yinmi Technology Co Ltd, New Hope Group and Chengdu Hongqi Chain Co Ltd., Sichuan XW Bank was previously originally approved by banking regulators in June under the provisional name Sichuan Hope Bank.
While Chengdu Hongqi Chain and New Hope Group own 15 and 30 percent respectively, Xiaomi's subsidiary holds just under 30 percent of the venture. The bank has a registered capital of 3 billion yuan ($431.38 million).

Christopher J. Mitchell

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