A Success Tunnel For 360 DigiTech: Business Transformation

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How the asset-light business model works

360 DigiTech is one of the earliest platforms in the industry to proactively initiate the transformation of reducing the proportion of self-operated loans and improving loan facilitation. This turned out to be an informed decision.

In the third quarter of 2019, 360 DigiTech first proposed its new strategic target for adopting the  'capital-light,' or more commonly as 'asset-light' business model. More colloquially, this refers to the company directly navigating the borrower to their cooperative financial institution, while collecting service fees from credit evaluation, credit management, or other technical-related services.

According to the published unaudited financial results of 360 DigiTech for the first quarter of 2021, the total loans originated by financial institutions were CNY 74.15 billion, of which CNY 37.25 billion (50.2%) was under an asset-light model and other technology solutions, achieving an astonishing increase of 211.9% over the same period in 2020. 

Haisheng Wu, CEO of 360 DigiTech, stated that "...over 50% of the loans were facilitated under the capital-light model and other technology solutions..." and it is a "fundamental change to the nature of our business, from being capital-driven to technology-driven."

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The highlight of this model is that as a loan facilitator, the company is not required to inject any margin for each loan. In other words, the credit risk of the asset-light business is borne by the capital; the loan facilitator is thus riskless. Besides, it can better respond to regulatory requirements and resist the impacts of uncertainty on business stability.

Moving further towards 'tech'

In policy terms, the tightening regulatory rules pose a little impact to loan facilitators like 360 DigiTech – even as fintech giants like Ant Group and JD Digits may suffer – as its targets are excess leverage and systematic risks. It creates opportunities for 360 DigiTech to jump a queue. The asset-light model is hence the core strategy of reducing the regulatory and credit risk. Besides, QFIN is trying to use less capital and more technology-powered services to open up more opportunities, both in terms of client acquisition and risk management.

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Disclaimer: Please consult your own advisor before making any investment decision. 

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