China’s leading search engine Baidu Inc announced Thursday that it will launch a third-party settlement service for fund companies and investors after being granted a license for fund sales, payment and settlement. 

It appears that Baidu will face fierce competition in the field:  A total of 13 companies, including Alibaba’s online payment arm Alipay and Tencent’s similar service  Tenpay, have already obtained the same type of license by February 2014, according to data from the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

In late March, Beijing-based Internet company Sina Corp also reportedly obtained the license and plans to launch a third-party settlement platform “Weicaifu” in partnership with Shanghai-based China Universal Asset Management and also fund management site

According to media reports, Alipay has set up a partnership with 37 domestic fund companies while Tencent’s Tenpay has partnerships with 23 firms.

Owning the license, Baidu could attract more users for its online wealth management products and offer personalized value-added services, analysts said.  In cooperation with two domestic fund companies – China Asset Management Co and Harvest Fund, Baidu has already launched several online monetary fund products such as Baifa and Baizhuan. These products compete ­directly with Alibaba’s ultra-popular Yu’ebao, which was launched in June 2013.

Source: Global Times