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Capital One: The boot camp for top rung executives in Chinese financial startups

What’s so special about Capital One that makes their employees so valuable? The one common ground for these executives is the focus on big data.

Dec 28, 2018 by Yun Nie
Capital One: The boot camp for top rung executives in Chinese financial startups

As many as 40 top-level executives in leading Chinese Internet financial (ITFIN) startups like PINTEC (品钛), Rong360 (融360) and PPDai (拍拍贷) were former employees of Capital One Financial Corporation, reported Chinese tech news publisher itjuzi.com (IT桔子).

Ye Daqing, who had worked in risk management, marketing, and strategic analysis unit of Capital One, found Rong360 in 2011 to pursue his idea of establishing the largest online search and recommendation platform for customised financing and loan services in China. Interestingly, Capital One specialises in offering customised financial products.

In 2015, Rong360 reached a valuation of USD 1 billion after securing over USD 160 million in Series D round. The unicorn was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in December 2017, raising a total of USD 180 million. The startup had reportedly offered services to 56 million users in China.

President of Chinese financial technology firm PINTEC, Zhou Jing, launched a digital lending subsidiary Dumiao (读秒) in 2015 after her 8-year stint in Capital One. Inspired by Capital One’s risk management system, Zhou fully automated the core credit decision engine of Dumiao.

Equipped with powerful technologies, Dumiao successfully issued CNY 245 million (USD 35.6 million) worth of asset-backed securities (ABS) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June 2017. Its parent company PINTEC filed proposed terms for the US IPO in October 2018 with a target of USD 41 million. The financial technology firm was also figured on KPMG’s "2016 FINTECH 100 Leading Global Fintech Innovators" list and Deloitte's "2016 Technology Fast 50 China” list, according to New York-based news aggregator PR Newswire.

Like Rong360 and PINTEC, most Chinese ITFIN ventures, with senior executives from Capital One, have shown promise as 60% of them closed Series B rounds and five have gone public. The managers, with the Capital One experience to boot, have played a key role in positioning the companies, observed Chinese online news platform 36kr.

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What’s so special about Capital One that makes their employees so valuable? The one common ground for these executives is the focus on big data.

Capital One, in the late 1990s, was a front-runner in using analytics to understand consumption patterns and provide personalised services. Riding on big data and tech innovations, Capital One has managed to stay a cut above the rivals in the past two decades.

President of Xiaoying Financial (小赢科技), Cheng Shaoyong, who had served as a member of consumer finance team to Capital One, said in an interview, “data analytics and technology innovation are the foremost for our company. I believe in data with all my heart”.

The fact that most of the former employees are appointed as chief risk officers (CRO) in new financial services firms in China is a testimony to Capital One’s superiority indata analytics.

Founded in 1988, Capital One (formerly known as Oakstone Financial) started out as a division of Virginia-based Signet BankRichmond. In 1994, Oakstone Financial was spun off from Signet Financial Corp and was officially renamed Capital One.

In the beginning, Capital One was just in the credit card business, but soon expanded to auto loans, banking, etc.

The company is valued at USD 360 billion now and has approximately 49,000employees in 1000 branches across the world. Capital One is ranked eighth among the 10 biggest banks in the United States in terms of assets and deposits, and 10th on the list of the largest banks by total assets. It also sits in the 100th place on Fortune 500 list.

Yun Nie

Yun Nie is a New York-based tech reporter. She focuses on India-China financial market, global IT giants and technology-centric market trends. She can be reached at Yunnie@thepassage.cc.

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