In today's China, a QR code is a must-have for retailing businesses. From grand department stores to food stands on street corners, they are put up everywhere to make things easier: by scanning the codes, people can pay for almost anything.
But it has also made things easier for scammers. QR codes are so accessible that a simple scanning of an unidentified barcode can lead to a loss of huge money or massive personal information leakage.
The popularity of QR code is only an example of the revolutionary changes brought by financial technology (fintech). In 2017, while people enjoyed better financial products and services, concern was also rising on risks and challenges.
Changing financial landscape
As a young market, China's financial firms have been quick to adapt their thinking to changing technology and business. After the explosive fintech growth in 2015 and 2016, relations between technological advancement and China's financial sector have grown even closer this year.
Business services group EY said in a report earlier this year that China is now in a leading position among 20 major markets in terms of fintech use in areas including money transfers, investments, borrowing and insurance.
"Fintech is making profound changes on the financial landscape," said Jiang Yang, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, China's top securities watchdog.
In Jiang's eyes, tech-based financial services are more accessible and inclusive, and have helped solve issues that have long baffled the industry.
For instance, while offering credit support for small and micro-sized enterprises who may not have enough collateral or sound balance sheets is still a headache for the banking sector, banks now can make better loan decisions by evaluating their conditions more precisely with technologies like big data and blockchain.
Traditional financial institutions have also moved to embrace such trends.
Baixin Bank, a direct bank jointly invested by China CITIC Bank and Chinese Internet giant Baidu, opened in November. It combines cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile Internet and other leading technology to offer financial services.