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IFC and Harbin Bank Promote Mobile Banking to Improve Financial Inclusion in China

Beijing, November 1, 2013 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today signed a cooperation agreement with Harbin Bank, one of China’s leading microfinance banks, to develop mobile banking services in northeast China, helping to improve access to basic financial services for thousands of farmers and small business owners. The signing marks the first bank joining IFC’s new China Mobile Banking Advisory Program.
IFC and Harbin Bank will study international best practices and local market conditions to identify practical and affordable mobile banking solutions for villages and townships in remote regions. Through a combination of local representatives on the ground and mobile payment services, farmers and small business owners will be able to access basic retail banking services such as cash withdrawals and fund transfers with their bank cards without the need to travel to faraway bank branches.
“Mobile banking is of strategic importance to Harbin Bank as it will allow us to reach borrowers truly in need of micro banking services at affordable rates,” said Harbin Bank Chairman Guo Zhiwen at a signing ceremony in Beijing. “This agreement deepens our long-term strategic partnership with IFC, launching an innovation in China's microfinance development.”
In 2009, IFC and Harbin Bank together funded a new township and village bank in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang Province. IFC has also helped the local bank establish sustainable microfinance lending practices.
"Access to basic financial services allows small enterprises and rural households to manage their finances and make investments in their businesses and families”, said IFC Asia Pacific Vice President Karin Finkelston. “IFC is working with Harbin Bank and other partners to promote innovative and replicable solutions that help create economic opportunities for farmers and smaller businesses in China, supporting the country’s inclusive growth.”
Financial inclusion remains a significant challenge in China, particularly in rural areas and less developed inland regions. Although by the end of 2011, most Chinese villages had a bank branch, each branch had to serve as many as 20,000 households on average, according to a study by China Union Pay.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
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