China reduces down payment for homes
HONG KONG • China said yesterday that it will reduce the minimum down payment required for first- and second-time home buyers in most cities, a move aimed at clearing a housing glut in regions outside the country's major centres.
The central bank and banking regulator jointly announced they would lower the minimum down payment for first-time home buyers to as low as 20 per cent, from the current 25 per cent, in cities that do not have restrictions on purchases.
The main cities that have such restrictions are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
For second-time home buyers, the minimum down payment will be lowered to 30 per cent from the current 40 per cent.
The last time regulators cut the minimum down payment was last September.
WhatsApp hits billion-user milestone
SAN FRANCISCO • Facebook- owned smartphone messaging service WhatsApp has hit the billion-user mark, according to the leading social network's chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Google's free e-mail service, Gmail, is the latest of the Internet giant's offerings to crest the billion-user mark, Google chief Sundar Pichai said on Monday during an earnings call.
The WhatsApp team said in a blog post: "That's nearly one in seven people on earth who use WhatsApp each month."
After buying WhatsApp in 2014, Facebook made the service completely free.
The next step, according to Mr Zuckerberg, is to make it easier to use the service to communicate with businesses.