UBS is to apply for a digital banking licence in China with the aim of reaching 200,000 mass affluent clients within two years.
UBS Asia Pacific head Edmund Koh told the South China Morning Post that the Swiss bank will apply for the licence when new rules are firmed up in June or July. He says he wants to incubate the platform in China serving customers with a minimum of $100,000 in liquid assets before rolling out globally.
Koh estimated it costs roughly US$25,000 to acquire a wealth-management client, which UBS could slash down to as little as US$60 via a digital bank and using artificial intelligence technology.
“We need scale, and I’m going to get that scale for UBS, working together with the Chinese authorities,” Koh told the paper.
China has granted 18 licences for privately run banks since 2014, including those to Tencent-backed WeBank, Alibaba’s affiliate MYbank and aiBank, whose investors include Baidu.