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Business deals

Japan bank and China unicorn to offer Southeast Asia loans

Aozora will support Zhongkejin's push into Vietnam and Philippines

The Zhongguancun area of Beijing is known as China's Silicon Valley. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

TOKYO -- Japan's Aozora Bank will partner with a Chinese financial technology unicorn to develop online loan services in Southeast Asia.

Beijing Zhongguancun Kejin Technology, also known as Zhongkejin, boasts loan screening based on artificial intelligence and counts Chinese digital powerhouses Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings among its customers. The company also offers online consumer financial services across China.

Zhongkejin is considering ventures involving online loans in Vietnam and the Philippines. Aozora Bank will help it establish connections with local authorities, and may invest in the company's businesses as well. The Chinese company also may work with Aozora when the bank launches fintech-related businesses in Japan.

Aozora and Zhongkejin intend to sign a memorandum of understanding as early as Friday with Tokyo-based Mercuria Investment, which set up a fund totaling 1.35 billion yen ($12.3 million) to invest in the Chinese company. The Japanese bank contributed about half of the sum, seeking opportunities for collaboration with Zhongkejin.

Zhongkejin was founded in 2015 by a former executive at e-commerce company JD.com, growing into a unicorn -- a privately held business valued at more than $1 billion.

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