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Chinese startup bullish on providing credit score

2014-10-10 15:20 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Qin Dexing

A three-year-old Chinese startup eyes filling the blank to give each individual a credit score by embracing Internet data.

"I'm impressed by Internet financial companies such as Lending Club and FICO in the US that can evaluate personal credit statement by analyzing customers' income and housing conditions as well as social network behavior," said Li Zhiguo, CEO of online financial management platform Wacai, adding that China lacks such a system as only banks can legally conduct credit checks.

What makes the 37-year-old Li stand out from his peers is that he left Alibaba twice to start a new business.

Li joined Alibaba at the age of 22 in 1999, becoming its No. 46 employee. Alibaba Trust, a membership-based e-commerce platform for small and medium companies, was a primary project led by him.

He left the company five years later to establish Koubei.com, a new e-commerce site focusing on living consumption information, which Alibaba invested in 2006 and acquired two years after. Li then led Ali Cloud, a cloud computing service provider, the second time he joined the Chinese Internet behemoth.

But he didn't stay for long. "Alibaba was a place full of vigor and dreams. I guess I was born with entrepreneurship genes, and enjoy growing things out of nothing. Working there helped me gain more confidence," Li told China Daily Online.

Wacai is among the projects that have received investment from Ameba Capital, the half venture capital firm he founded with his friends after leaving Alibaba in 2010.

Unable to resist hands-on passion, Li returned to the startup frontline as Wacai's CEO in 2014.

"We are here to help ordinary people manage their money. Most Chinese don't keep track of their daily expenses. They believe a higher salary is the only way to maximize and optimize their spending," he said, adding that Wacai can come up an accurate personal credit statement through data analysis.

The startup will bring in profits by recommending wealth management products as well as offering small lending, said Li to China Daily Online.

"It's true that Wacai has started to gain some revenue but hasn't broken even yet," he said, explaining that expanding the user base is the top priority agreed by the board and the application has been downloaded 100 million times with active users reaching tens of millions.

"There are still huge potential given the vast base in the market and with many Chinese still not used to investing. We hope to offer them customized investment recommendations and give them a hand when in need such as financing for weddings or furnishing," said Li.

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