A worker (left) at Geely Auto Group's Chunxiao Manufacturing Plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, applies for a consumer loan using online services of Industrial Bank. (Photo by Chen Jia / China Daily)
A 20-minute ride on a steamboat from the wharf of the Sandu Gulf port area in Ningde, a coastal city in Fujian province, is all that is needed to reach the fishery owned by fisherman Zheng Xiangan, 39, who has just received about 1 million yuan (4,000) from consumers and fish sellers through a local bank's mobile app.
Zheng said, "Can you imagine that two years ago, such a lot of money could have been transferred only by cash, and my clients had to drive a boat to me, and we did the business face-to-face?"
Things have changed since Ningde Rural Commercial Bank introduced the mobile banking service to local fishermen.
Through its app, the bank helps its clients to transfer money or apply for loans in just one minute.
Last year, Zheng received a three-year loan of 500,000 yuan from the bank at a relatively lower interest rate. The bank has been attempting to support the development of small and micro-sized businesses in the region.
Zheng's fishery has expanded after increasing investment. It now has 400,000 large yellow croakers, earning nearly 3 million yuan in net profit per year.
It is part of the Blue Finance Strategy of Ningde Rural Commercial Bank, which aims to support the local agricultural sector and further develop marine economics.
In Sandu Gulf port area, cage farming of large yellow croaker, prawn, abalone and seaweed has grown into a mature business, and forms a complete production chain, having about 30,000 practitioners.
Shan Qiang, president of the Fuzhou branch of the People's Bank of China, said the central bank has encouraged local commercial banks to design special financial products to support local economic growth. It is part of its broader strategy to implement inclusive finance in China.
Innovative financial products and services from Ningde Rural Commercial Bank include fund settlements, electronic banking, credit, and customized wealth management products for local fishermen.
By the end of October last year, the number of customers using mobile banking services reached 10,246, while that for using WeChat financing service was 3,113.
Money transferred by mobile banking totaled 3.68 billion yuan, according to data from the rural bank.
David Lipton, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, wrote in an article that new digital platforms have come to play a very important role in spreading inclusive finance.
"Hundreds of millions are gaining access to the market economy in places where physical banking infrastructure is limited or absent," he said. "The transformative potential of marrying cell phones and banking cannot be underestimated."
With China holding the presidency of G20 since 2016, the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion developed a new set of High-Level Principles that encourages governments to promote a digital approach to financial inclusion.
It encourages governments to promote a digital approach to financial inclusion, and is being used as a reference tool by many countries.