27 October 2016
Xiaomi believes data gathered from its users can help financial institutions develop better investment products. Photo: HKEJ
Xiaomi believes data gathered from its users can help financial institutions develop better investment products. Photo: HKEJ

Why Xiaomi may still have an edge in internet finance

Smartphone maker Xiaomi has stepped into the internet finance market in China by officially launching on Monday a mobile app that allows users to buy a high-yield money market fund.

The Mi Finance app was launched in conjunction with Xiaomi Huaqibao, the company’s first online money market fund that has been rolled out in partnership with E Fund Management, the second largest asset manager in China.

Now, the question arises: Has Xiaomi’s move come too little too late, given that tech behemoths such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu already have well-established operations in this segment?

Xiaomi’s wealth management product is quite attractive in terms of yield. The 7-day annualized return of Xiaomi Huaqibao was 5.02 percent on Monday while market leader Alibaba’s Yu’E Bao was 4.26 percent.

Launching the financial product is just the first step for the startup; the group hopes to let its users buy stocks and insurance from the platform in long term.

But that alone won’t give Xiaomi any edge over its rivals, who are already offering or planning similar services.

What will set Xiaomi apart from other tech firms would be its one of a kind Big Data potential, stemming from the smartphone maker’s huge user base.

Xiaomi’s operating system MIUI is used by more than 100 million people in the world. The Chinese firm shipped 61.1 million handsets last year

Most of its users are active on the mobile internet platform, according to research cited by China Entrepreneur magazine.

Xiaomi is not only a handset manufacturer, it is also the developer of its MIUI operating system. On top of that, it is also venturing into the smart-home area, which will see Xiaomi’s smartphones linked to home appliances via the internet.

Along with the wearable fitness and sleep tracker band that it has developed and the upcoming smart watch offering, Xiaomi will be able to collect data from numerous sources, something its bigger rivals won’t be able to do.

In the words of Hong Feng, one of the co-founders of Xiaomi, e-commerce is not the only channel to gather Big Data in the company’s hardware-software ecosystem. The company can also secure, among other things, information about users’ workout habits and internet searching history as well through its various products.

He believes the data could help financial institutions develop products which are more suitable for investors.

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EJ Insight writer

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