On December 25, Ping An’s blockchain and AI arm OneConnect announced a joint venture with Japan’s SBI Holdings. The new company, SBI OneConnect Japan, will provide cloud-based and AI services to regional banks in Japan.
OneConnect filed for a $500 million U.S. IPO late last year. The joint venture with SBI Holdings is the first deal to launch since the listing on the NYSE. OneConnect markets itself as an AI company but has several other technologies it offers to the financial services industry, including blockchain. The company has a strong customer base, with the majority of China’s big banks and nearly 99% of its city commercial banks, and 46% of insurance companies.
“OneConnect has proven its influence in the Chinese market. We help banks to improve their income, efficiency and quality of services, and reduce their risks and costs, we can help Japanese financial institutions to achieve the same goal,” said Ye Wangchun, Chairman and CEO of OneConnect.
The Chinese fintech firm has been expanding its presence in Asia and has struck several deals in the region. In 2018, it set up an office in Singapore, as the headquarters and R&D centre of Southeast Asia. Currently, the company has a presence in 10 countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and South Korea.
“In overseas markets, the main service targets of OneConnect are mainstream local banks and insurance companies,” Wangchun added.
OneConnect’ Japanese link is not limited to the partnership with SBI Holdings. Softbank’s Vision Fund is an investor in OneConnect, along with two other Ping An subsidiaries.
The Japanese partner, SBI Holdings, is quite active in the blockchain space and has been spearheading applications across the region. SBI has another joint venture with blockchain payments firm Ripple, called SBI Ripple, which launched a remittance service between Japan and Vietnam.
Germany’s Boerse Stuttgart and SBI Group are collaborating to develop a blockchain digital asset ecosystem in Europe and Asia. Additionally, SBI has investments in enterprise blockchain firm R3, securities tokenization firm Securitize and insurance blockchain platform B3i.
Commenting on the partnership with OneConnect, the president of SBI Group Yoshitaka Kitao said that the joint venture would “become the key to regional revitalization in Japan.”