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News from China
Payments app Circle raises US$60m from Chinese funds
28th June 2016

 US-BASED payments app Circle has raised US$60 million from Chinese investors and launched a company in China, as it seeks to expand in the world’s second-largest economy.

The latest funding comes from existing investor and Beijing-based tech investment fund IDG Capital Partners, as well as Chinese companies including Baidu, CICC Alpha and China Everbright Ltd, Circle’s co-founder Jeremy Allaire said.

“We’re not aiming to compete with the domestic market as that would be a suicide mission given the strength of local players like Alipay and WeChat, but we can connect Chinese consumers with the eurozone and dollar markets,” Allaire said by phone.

Circle’s China unit operates as a separate locally incorporated company and has not yet launched a product, pending a deal with a local banking partner and a legal license to operate, Allaire said.

Circle allows the sending of payments to countries where it hasn’t yet launched, with the payment transferred into Bitcoin, then settled within minutes via the blockchain network that validates Bitcoin transactions. At the other end, the Bitcoin is transferred back into the currency of that particular country.

Circle’s intention in China is to connect consumers there with this new global means of making small or “social” payments to peers in other countries.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 28, 2016
China Eastern Airlines releases new red wines and meals
27th June 2016

 China Eastern Airlines today released 21 kinds of red wines for passengers to taste in the air throughout this year.

The wine including Zinfandel from Napa Valley in California and Shiraz from Penfolds in Australia were picked up from 316 world’s famous red wines through polls among its passengers and 10 senior wine tasters.

The wines will be served in the first and business classes as well as economy class in some international flights, an official with the airline said.

The local carrier also released a batch of new meals to be served with the wines in the air. The airline will also cooperate with a local chain restaurant Shanghai Min to offer Shanghai-style cuisine in the cabin soon, the airline announced.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 27, 2016
Rich Chinese see grass is greener for returns overseas
24th June 2016

 MORE rich Chinese are expected to send their assets overseas for better investment returns as the economy continues to open up, according to a report.

It is estimated that the proportion of Chinese individual assets to be allocated overseas will increase from the current 4.8 percent to about 9.4 percent in the next five years, with the assets under management of overseas investment rising to 13 trillion yuan (US$2 trillion), according to the 2016 China Wealth Report jointly released by the Industrial Bank and The Boston Consulting Group.

The proportion of personal wealth allocated to foreign assets is lower in China than in other countries.

As the Chinese economy continues to open, however, the proportion will increase thanks to liberal regulations and growing interest in overseas investment.

The report revealed that, despite a slowing Chinese economic growth, the wealth of high-net-worth individuals with investable assets of more than 6 million yuan is rising steadily.

China’s high-net-worth families will reach 3.88 million by 2020 and their investable financial assets will then account for 51 percent of China’s individual wealth. The country’s continuous economic globalization will drive the HNWIs to shift from domestic wealth allocation to global wealth allocation.

The rise of China’s HNWIs offers great opportunities for the development of private banking businesses, the report said.

However, there is an undersupply of private banking services. China’s private banking institutions manage under 20 percent of the wealth of high net worth families, which implies huge opportunities for development, according to Chen Jinguang, vice president of the Industrial Bank.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 24, 2016
Singapore puts yuan in reserves
23rd June 2016

 SINGAPORE’S central bank said yesterday it will make financial investments in the yuan as part of its official foreign reserves from June, reflecting the yuan’s increasing global acceptance.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said its decision "recognizes the steady and calibrated liberalization of China’s financial markets, and the growing acceptance of (yuan) assets in the global portfolio of institutional investors".

MAS has been making financial investments in the yuan since 2012, under a scheme that allows foreign institutional investors to buy equities and bonds listed on China's exchanges.

It also buys bonds in China's over-the-counter bond trading market, which was opened to foreign central banks in 2010

While the investments were part of MAS' foreign assets, they were excluded when computing the foreign reserves because of restrictions on the repatriation of the funds, the MAS said.

But "over the past year, China has taken significant steps to liberalize access to its foreign exchange and securities markets for foreign institutional investors," it said in a statement.

"For example, access to China’s interbank bond market was granted to most foreign institutional investors, and investment quotas were eliminated," it added.

"Restrictions on inbound and outbound remittances have been lifted and no prior approval is now required for the repatriation of funds invested in China’s interbank bond market."

Singapore's official foreign reserves totaled US$248 billion as of end 2015, data from the MAS website showed.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 23, 2016

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