China's Baidu challenges Alibaba with financial services platform


By Paul Carsten

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Baidu Inc will launch an onlinewealth management platform next week, as China's biggestInternet search company moves away from its advertising businessto compete against Alibaba and Tencent Holdings.

Baidu said it would launch its Baidu Finance Center on Oct.28, offering a product together with China Asset Management Co.aimed at producing an annual yield of 8 percent for depositors.

China's finance sector has been dominated by state banks fordecades. But now technology companies are using their onlineexpertise and platforms to push financial products developed byfinance management firms.

Baidu, e-commerce group Alibaba and Internet servicescompany Tencent have pushed to obtain licences to buildfinancial services platforms, offering web users mutual funds,loans and insurance.

Alibaba's online payment affiliate Alipay launched a moneymarket fund with Tianhong Asset Management Co. in June. It isthe most successful Chinese fund of the year and has attracted16 million users. Earlier this month, Alipay bought acontrolling stake in Tianhong.

Alibaba also has partnered with Tencent and Ping AnInsurance Group to offer online insurance products.

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