China P2P industry lending nears Rmb1tn despite crackdown, new regulations

Growth in China’s peer-to-peer lending sector has proven resilient in the face of new regulations and a year-long crackdown by authorities on online financing, with total P2P loans blowing past the Rmb900bn ($130.7bn) mark last month.

Outstanding P2P loans came to Rmb920bn at the end of March, according to new figures released today by lending platform Wangdaizhijia.

That puts borrowing on a course to breach the Rmb1tn mark soon, despite rules imposed by China’s banking regulator in August that capped borrowing across multiple platforms at Rmb1m for individuals and Rmb5m for companies. Lending on a single platform was also capped at Rmb200,000 for individuals and Rmb1m for companies.

Month-on-month growth in outstanding loans slowed compared to before the new regulations were introduced in August, from 5.7 per cent in July 2016 to 4 per cent last month.But when viewed in renminbi terms, growth has ratcheted up, with the industry tacking on an average Rmb35.6bn a month in the seven months since regulations were introduced, compared to an average rise of Rmb29.1bn in the seven months ended August.

The rise also comes despite protracted consolidation in the industry after total P2P lending platforms peaked in November 2015. Since then, the number of platforms engaged in normal operations has fallen by 331 to 2,281, according to Wangdaizhijia.

The regulations’ impact may have been felt most keenly by lenders, as the composite yield on China’s P2P loans dipped to 9.4 per cent in March, down another 0.1 percentage points from the month prior and 2.8 percentage points lower from the start of 2016.

That deterioration can also likely trace its roots to the new rules last year, which also forbade online lenders from guaranteeing interest or principal on loans they facilitate as well as from accepting deposits and securitising assets.

The latest industry data also come nearly 12 months on from the multi-agency launch of a year-long crackdown on China’s internet finance sector targeting shady practices among P2P lenders, equity crowdfunding platforms, wealth management firms and online insurers.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.