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China Merchants Bank invests in Didi Kuaidi to co-launch financial and O2O services

jean liu didi cmb press conference-1
Jean Liu, president of Didi Kuaidi. By Catherine Lai

Jean Liu, president of Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, announced a strategic partnership with China Merchants Bank (CMB) today in Beijing, in her first public appearance since returning to her post.

The partnership includes a strategic investment by CMB in Didi of USD 200 million as part of its latest USD 3 billion funding round, a source told Reuters. The company is now valued at USD 16.5 billion.

“But the focus is that they have hundreds of millions of clients, and we do too,” says Liu.

CMB has joined DiDi’s former investors including Tencent, Alibaba, China Investment Corporation (CIC), Ping An Ventures, China International Capital Corporation (CICC), CITIC Capital, Beijing Automotive Group and more Chinese and international institutions.

After partnering with Didi, CMB customers will be able to hail Didi rides through CMB’s mobile banking apps, CMB Mobile Bank and Life on Palm, as well as pay their fares from within the Didi app.

As well as benefiting customers, the partnership will also help Didi drivers buy cars. CMB will provide a car purchase instalment plan to Didi drivers and car owners, with a joint review process by both parties.

They will also launch a joint CMB-Didi credit and savings cards through CMB’s channels and Didi’s app. Card holders will enjoy reward points and other privileges for transactions made on the Didi platform. Potential Didi private-car drivers can also get help registering with Didi at local CMB branches.

Zhao Ju, the deputy head of CMB, also said they are working with Didi on big data analysis.

Liu said they picked CMB for additional value in the partnership.

“When you have [raised] three billion dollars…you want to pick the best partners for you. You’re not chasing after money, you’re chasing after value added to your business, ” Liu said.

Last year, Didi announced strategic partnerships with Uber rival Lyft, India’s Ola and Singapore’s GrabTaxi. Liu says Didi wants to support local companies, whose on-the-ground advantage can provide the best service to users, another reason why they partnered with CMB.

After her breast cancer diagnosis in September and her subsequent absence, Liu announced on Weibo that she would be returning at the end of December. She confirmed that her role at the company will not change.

“I will still be the president of Didi. I will still do my usual job,” says Liu.

Didi is expanding quickly. Since it closed a round of funding at USD three billion last September, it has launched a test drive service in October and its online car selling service in December.

This story was updated on Jan. 27 to include investment amount.

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