China's Didi launches credit, crowdfunding services

A Didi Chuxing ride-hailing stand in Beijing. The firm's new financial products bring it into competition with Alibaba Group and Tencent.
A Didi Chuxing ride-hailing stand in Beijing. The firm's new financial products bring it into competition with Alibaba Group and Tencent.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's Didi Chuxing has launched a suite of financial products, including crowdfunding and lending, as it continues to diversify outside the ride-hailing business following a year of safety scandals.

The move comes on the heels of a company-wide reorganisation announced last month, aimed at improving safety on its platform as well as operating efficiency.

The new products were tested in 10 cities and have now been introduced nationwide, the firm said yesterday. They include wealth management, credit and lending, and crowdfunding for critical illnesses, all aimed at short-term, temporary workers.

The products bring Didi into competition with Alibaba Group and technology peer Tencent.

They also come as rivals, including other Alibaba-backed firms, have been making a renewed push in a ride-hailing market dominated by Didi, aiming to tap unmet demand brought about by regulatory change. Didi itself is facing new rules and increased scrutiny from the authorities after a series of high-profile safety incidents, including the murders of two female Didi passengers in separate cases.

As part of a subsequent national audit of ride-hailing firms, the Ministry of Transport said Didi was "out of control" and pledged to tighten driver recruitment standards.

The firm is short of drivers in major cities, since rules in 2017 curbed the number of eligible applicants.

Didi itself is facing new rules and increased scrutiny from the authorities after a series of high-profile safety incidents.

Didi, whose backers include Uber, Apple and SoftBank, is reshuffling its domestic business as it expands globally, with new services in South America and Australia.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'China's Didi launches credit, crowdfunding services'. Print Edition | Subscribe