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China’s top insurance company, Ping An, is opening up its public cloud service to external customers, underscoring its ambition to become a key supplier in the country’s booming market for cloud services.
Called Ping An Cloud, the full-stack cloud service, comprising infrastructure, platform and application services, was first launched in 2013, enabling Ping An to harness artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data capabilities to support its business.
By extending Ping An Cloud to external parties in five industry segments – finance, healthcare, smart cities, real estate and automotive, for a start – Ping An is inching closer to its goal of being a technology company.
“The global cloud market is surging and cloud computing is highly valued by domestic governments at all levels,” said Jessica Tan, deputy group CEO, chief operating officer and CIO of Ping An, which has previously said it wants to generate half of its earnings from technology eventually.
Ping An singled out the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market as a key growth area in a country that accounts for only 4% of the global cloud services market. In extending its cloud platform to third parties in other industries, it said it has also tailored its cloud services to meet differing customer demands.
To expand its developer base, Ping An Cloud has also teamed up with software development platform GitHub, which will sell enterprise products and services to Chinese firms through Ping An Cloud. Both firms will also explore other business opportunities and build up ecosystems in the financial, educational, startup and related fields.
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In an interview with CNBC Asia in early 2018, Tan, a Singaporean and former McKinsey executive, said that to realise its ambition of becoming a technology company, Ping An has had to invest a lot in cutting-edge technology, especially in a highly competitive market.
It must also make sure that its technology has significant impact on its core businesses, as well as offer its technology to others – a difficult thing to do, said Tan.
As a technology offshoot of an insurance company, Ping An Cloud has focused mostly on serving the financial and healthcare industries.
Its 70 cloud products are used by nearly 2,000 financial and quasi-financial institutions, more than 42,000 clinics in its Wanjia healthcare network, as well as its OneConnect financial technology subsidiary.
At present, Ping An Cloud supports more than 95% of the Ping An Group’s professional subsidiaries and 80% of its business systems. With 400 million users, it is the largest and most widely used cloud platform in the financial industry.