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Baidu, CITIC approved to set up China's first independent direct bank

CHINESE Internet giant Baidu has been approved to open a direct bank, finally joining its tech counterparts in offering banking services.

The country's top banking regulator has approved the establishment of Baixin Bank, which has joint investment from China CITIC Bank and Baidu to offer direct banking services.

This is the first time for an independent legal entity in China to run a direct banking business. Direct banks are those without any branch networks, offering services remotely via online and telephone banking.

China CITIC Bank, one of the country's largest lenders by assets, will hold a controlling stake in the new bank, which will combine cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile Internet and other leading technologies to offer financial services.

China started piloting private banks in 2014, and Baidu's counterparts Alibaba and Tencent have already successfully gained private banking licenses by forming similar alliances with partners.

Robin Li, Baidu's board chairman and CEO, expects the new team will make full use of Baidu's leading technology, huge data and expertise in online operations.