Chinese online search engine Baidu has joined forces with China CITIC Bank to launch a direct banking business.
A direct bank is a bank without any branch network, which delivers services through online banking and telephone banking.
The move represents Baidu’s latest strategy to gain a competitive edge over its rivals in the growing field of online financial services. Baidu rivals Alibaba and Tencent have already established online-banking joint ventures.
According to media reports, the two parties are yet to apply to the banking regulator for a license to set up such a bank.
Following the receipt of license, the bank is expected to focus on selling wealth-management products as well as offer loans to consumers and small companies.