Excerpts from a fireside chat show the inner motivations of a Chinese fintech giant …

At the recent Singapore Fintech Festival, China tech giant Tencent (whose name is the transliteration of the Chinese words 腾讯 alluding to ‘galloping growth’) took the stage at a fireside chat to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses, and shared what 2021 will bring for the tech world.

The president of Tencent Financial Technology, Forest Lin, said that his organization was affected just like every other firm. “Our immediate concern was to protect our employees, where the company had taken a proactive, employees-first approach to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 was mitigated and the disruption to business operations kept at a minimum.”

As an organization, Tencent also understood their role in the global fight against the pandemic. Earlier this year, the firm had announced funds of over US$300m in China and internationally, for the provision of personal protective equipment and other essential medical supplies, and for supporting technological and medical research.

Facilitating digital payments with resilience

Noting how his firm first reeled from the decline in mobile payments at the start of the outbreak in China, Lin was grateful that the coordinated national lockdowns soon rebounded significantly, and the number of Weixin transactions increased by 7-10 times during March to April. In the last week of April, he noted, the average daily commercial transaction value returned to the level at the end of 2019. Now it has returned to very solid year-on-year growth in terms of mobile payment volume.

Lin commented, “An example of how we adapt to solve problems for our users is addressing the challenges that COVID-19 has created by restricting cross-border travel. Under this content, we introduced the WiseFX platform to provide a diverse and enhanced cross-border payment solution.”

Noting that the rise of fintech adoption is fundamentally built on trust, Lin opined that this is critical to capitalizing on opportunities and entering new markets. That is why his organization pivots resiliently to align with changing global best practices for user privacy, data security and transparency. “We work with local partners and merchants in compliance with rules and laws in all the markets in which we operate.”

In addition, the organization also works with authorities on anti-money laundering measures, ensuring that the right technology, processes, and culture in place, he added.

Foresights for 2021

In closing, Lin shared his outlook for 2021: “The closing of physical borders has not deterred our users’ demand for connectivity with overseas markets. In fact, that demand has only increased significantly. This is a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to seriously think about and add value to inclusive finance. Consumers want greater access to global markets and to continue the cross-border trade and consumption that will drive global recovery from the pandemic.”

Accordingly, despite simmering international trade tensions and uncertain implications of US accusations and spats, the firm has pledged its commitment to help remove frictions in international trade and globalization: Lin believes the need for financial interconnectedness will only continue to grow in the year ahead.