China and UK seek to boost fintech partnership

Pedro Gonçalves
China and UK seek to boost fintech partnership

Britain is looking to bolster its parnership with China in the fields of fintech and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), said Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Estlin in a recent interview.

Estlin said that as China's role in the world's economy is increasingly important, he expects closer ties in economy and trade between China and Britain.

The Lord Mayor is in China to promote links with Britain in financial technology, green finance and the Belt and Road construction. 

As we look at things like the foreign investment law coming in, these are opportunities for greater international investment into China"

Speaking to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua ahead of his trip, Estlin said ties between China and Britain have gone from strength to strength, with bilateral trade now worth nearly £70bn (around $92bn).

Wang Hua, deputy head of Shanghai's Pudong New Area, said the City of London has talents and an advanced environment for financial technology development and he hopes the two sides can strive toward more projects.

Estlin is set to visit Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, and run fintech forums in each of the cities to encourage two-way investment.

"I've got some fintech companies coming with me and I'm hoping they will again see our opportunities for them to invest in China," Estlin said. 

Last week, China adopted a foreign investment law that will come into effect in 2020 to provide stronger protection and a better business environment for overseas investors.

Estlin said the City of London welcomed the new law, and saw it as part of the progressive nature of China's opening up.

"As we look at things like the foreign investment law coming in, these are opportunities for greater international investment into China. And I see that is an opportunity through my visit to discuss that and how we through the City of London in particular and through the UK being a global financial market can continue to direct investing capital into China," he said.

He said he believes liberalization and innovation will underpin China's future growth, with the internationalization of the RMB creating greater capital flows and the potential benefits of the London-Shanghai Stock Connect.

Estlin said he is keen to see the launch of the London-Shanghai Stock Connect this year, which will allow companies listed on one to issue shares on the other.

China's fintech giants have expanded their presence in Britain, most obviously demonstrated by Chinese financial services company Ant Financial's acquisition of London-based international payment firm WorldFirst last month.

More recently Barclaycard, a British multinational credit card and payment services provider, announced an agreement with China's leading third-party online payment solution Alipay to help more British retailers accept its transactions to reach more Chinese visitors to Britain.

"These are welcome opportunities. One of the strengths of the UK is it's an incubator nation so we are creating these very valuable businesses. Opportunities to collaborate with Chinese companies are good, they're a win-win," he said. "So I'm all for creating and sponsoring and supporting those types of initiatives."