Tencent, Alibaba founders rumored to explore financial services joint-venture

Tencent, Alibaba founders rumored to explore financial services joint-venture

The shifting landscape of China’s Internet has led to some interesting partnerships and cooperation between competitors. The founders of Tencent and Alibaba are believed to be teaming up with a Chinese insurance company on a project to provide “Internet financial services.”

Caixin reports that, according to sources, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, and Ma Huateng, the founder of Tencent, have set up a joint-venture in Shanghai with Ping An Insurance Group chairman Ma Mingzhe.

Ma Mingzhe, whose company is China’s second-largest life insurance provider, is believed to hold a 15 percent stake in the new venture. According to one tipster, he “wants to utilize Tencent’s social networking platform and Alibaba’s e-commerce database to develop Internet financial services rather than merely selling insurance.”

Tencent has established itself as China’s biggest Internet company on the strength of its QQ messaging platform, which has more than 700 million accounts, while Alibaba has taken the lead in the commerce industry with its Alibaba business-to-business website and its Taobao service, often called the Chinese eBay.

While it’s not known whether Tencent and Alibaba would be directly involved in their founders’ rumored new projects, both companies have set their sights on the financial market. Alibaba already offers some financial services, as it has run a small business loan service for its products since 2009. In July, Tencent purchased a stake in Caixin Media with the aim of making “financial news reach a broader audience.”

Alibaba is itself in the process of raising money in order to buy back Yahoo’s stake in it. The company is also expected to pursue plans for a US IPO in the near future.

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