Date
11 December 2017
Singer Ping An is promoting an upcoming online property-cum-finance portal by an insurer that shares his name. Photo: HKEJ
Singer Ping An is promoting an upcoming online property-cum-finance portal by an insurer that shares his name. Photo: HKEJ

Ping An builds online property with a twist

Ping An Insurance (02318.HK) has come up with a novel way to combine real estate and the finance business. It’s called pinganfang.com and when it launches on May 15 it will be a one-stop online shop for home sales and payments, mortgages and insurance products as well as funds.

One of the new products will be “Haofangbao” {好房宝}, a money market fund that will not only offer investors better returns than bank deposits, but also home purchase discounts, according to the China Securities Journal.

The website is also planning to sell up to 1,000 attractively priced homes in a promotion on May 20.

“We are not aiming to make much profit. We are after market share and trying to get our name out first,” chief operating officer Zhuang Nuo told the journal.

One of pinganfang.com’s biggest roles will be to match developers with homebuyers. Homebuyers will be key to the operation because they are usually plum customers for home insurance, mortgages, credit cards, investments and other financial services offered by the banking and insurance conglomerate.

The site doesn’t have the customer base and strong connections of leading online property portals such as SouFun (SFUN) and Leju (US.LEJU), but the strong backing from its parent and unique strength in financial products will make it a strong challenger to the incumbents.

Time was that SouFun shares sold like hot cakes, but investor interest has cooled as the property market has slowed in recent months. The real estate portal has lost one-third of its value in the year to date after tripling it last year.

The cooling home market could prove a strong headwind for the infant pinganfang.com but once the down cycle is over, the company’s internet-finance-plus-property model means it’s well positioned to generate long-term business value.

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EJ Insight writer

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