Online-only Chinese retail investment platform to launch in Singapore in third quarter

Lufax was set up in 2011 as a peer-to-peer lender backed by Ping An Insurance and has more than 31 million registered users.
Lufax was set up in 2011 as a peer-to-peer lender backed by Ping An Insurance and has more than 31 million registered users.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - An online-only platform for retail investors will launch here in the third quarter, China's Ping An Group announced on Monday (July 17).

Lu International (Singapore) Financial Asset Exchange, a spin-off from the Shanghai-based Lufax, has received an in-principle approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore for its capital markets services (CMS) licence.

Lufax was set up in 2011 as a peer-to-peer lender backed by Ping An Insurance and has more than 31 million registered users.

But in a growing shift away from its roots, Lu International will target middle-income offshore retail investors, said chief executive Kit Wong.

The company, which will offer investments via mobile devices with no face-to-face encounters, hopes to attract customers who may have less wealth than those served by private banks.

"Under the terms of our CMS licence, we're an offshore platform, so we'll be targeting primarily offshore investors," said Mr Wong on Monday morning. "We're looking at investors with US20,000 to US$30,000" to invest.

Lufax co-chairman and chief executive Gregory Gibb said that customers seeking to invest internationally have had to choose between a bank deposit or doing foreign exchange and stock trading.

"What we think is missing for this middle-income investor is a platform that allows them to do more wealth management, more portfolio-based allocations, that is still lower-risk but is improving their return over their deposit," he added.

He noted that peer-to-peer lending, initially the backbone of Lufax operations, has fallen to about one-tenth of monthly transaction volume.

"The long-term strategy of Lufax is really to serve as an open wealth management platform where we're sourcing products - the best products we can," he said.

Lu International will focus on the Chinese offshore market at first, Mr Wong said. "Depending on the volume, then we assess the other different markets" such as Indonesia, he added.