Skip to navigationSkip to content
LEFTOVER TREASURE

China’s gargantuan money market fund is a sign of strength—and deep imbalances

Reuters/Shu Zhang
Ant hill.

When Ant Financial added a money market fund to its payment app, few people expected it to become the biggest in the world a couple of years later. Its runaway success is a sign of China’s financial potential, as well as a deep and worrisome imbalance within its $13 trillion economy.

First, the good news. Just six years after it was launched, some 588 million Chinese—more than one-third of the country—access the fund through Alipay, the ubiquitous payment app that is part of Ant Financial, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Even after shrinking to its lowest level since 2016, it’s still the biggest money market fund in the world, overseeing the equivalent of about $148 billion in assets, as of March 31.

The fund is called Yu’e Bao, meaning “leftover treasure,” and was launched by Tianhong Asset Management, which is 51% owned by Ant. (The fund’s proper title is Tianhong Yu’e Bao, which is an individual fund on Alipay’s overall Yu’e Bao wealth management platform.)

Enrich your perspective. Embolden your work. Become a Quartz member.

Your membership supports a team of global Quartz journalists reporting on the forces shaping our world. We make sense of accelerating change and help you get ahead of it with business news for the next era, not just the next hour. Subscribe to Quartz today.