The TOM Group is controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, and is set to expand its ecommerce operation, Ule, into P2P lending and online banking via a partnership with WeLab, Hong Kong’s leading online lending platform.
In June 2014, WeLab raised $14 million in a Series A round that included Tom Group. At the time Simon Loong, founder and CEO of WeLab, commented:
“This round of financing validates our mission to use internet technologies to enable massive disruption and innovation in Asia’s financial industry, which began with WeLab’s launch of WeLend.hk in Hong Kong last year. As we look beyond WeLend.hk, we are particularly excited by the network of our strategic investor, TOM Group, to facilitate our fast expansion into mainland China, Greater China and Asia.”
The established TOM Group will launch its online finance and loan products this year as revealed in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange. At the end of 2014, more than 40,000 merchants in 21 provinces in mainland China were doing business through Ule and soon P2P loans will be avalible to them.
Ule is targeting growth in China in the rural parts of the country that are getting access to the internet, via smartphones, for the first time. The platform offers an integrated service of ecommerce and banking.
It is well known that P2P lending is continuing to experience strong growth in China. We recently looked at three examples that illustrate the progress this space is making. An indication of the strength of the P2P lending sector around the world is the number of large companies from other industries that are seeing the benefit of partnering with P2P platforms, such as the Lending Club partnerships with Alibaba and Google. As the industry continues to gain credibility in China it is likely that this is something we will see a lot more of, alongside e-commerce and tech companies starting up their own P2P platforms.