Pitfalls of China's e-finance services

Source:CRI Published: 2014-1-31 9:54:00

A "Red-Envelope-Grabbing" campaign prompted by WeChat, a communication app provided by China's internet mogul Tencent, has once again raised the concerns about online financial security.

Upon the arrival of the Chinese Lunar New Year, WeChat is promoting its online e-finance system by sending out virtual red envelopes containing different monetary values. Giving out red envelopes is a Chinese tradition during the Spring Festival, serving as a gesture of expressing blessings.

The "Red-Envelop-Grabbing" campaign requires its users to link their debit cards with WeChat accounts. Many users are giving out their banking information without the full consideration of their actions or potential consequences for negligence.

The new mode of payment is another move made by China's internet giant to push forward the progress of online trading through smartphones. Before that, Alipay has introduced an account balance management product called Yu'ebao.

Alipay is a Paypal-like service belonging to Alibaba Group, who provides online e-commerce services.

When Yu'ebao was first introduced in June 2013, it claims to offer 14 times the current interest of banks. The publicity has apparently achieved great effects. The service has garnered Alibaba roughly 250 billion yuan.

Business insiders say Yu'ebao should be considered as a financial product, and high returns are accompanied with high risks. Whether Yu'ebao can continue giving back its investors considerable profits remains in question.

Yu'ebao is, in fact, a kind of monetary fund. By loaning money to those who need and collecting interests from them, the monetary fund highly depends on the market. Also, as an online service, the new pattern involves a third-party payment platform and relevant internet service providers. Even a minor fault in the industry chain could lead to disastrous consequences.

Unstable and insecure internet service and the lack of laws and supervising authorities are this venture's fatal weaknesses.

A man surnamed Huang reportedly lost 40,000 yuan without notification. He deposited 300,000 yuan in his Yu'ebao account. Alipay's customer service department attempted to justify the loss, saying that if the password is cracked, then the hacker could steal the money despite multiple protection set up for the account.

What's worse, once the money is transferred, it's not easy to track down its whereabouts and claim compensation.

The lack of sound laws concerning internet financial trade in China also casts shadows on the prospect of such online payment platforms. Authorities have difficulty enforcing any laws, since the laws regarding online transactions and oversight in China are not clear.

Experts advise that people should think twice before acting when it comes to investing in online financial products or services.

Posted in: Economy

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