Texas Tech University

Rawls MIS Research Team Reaches Big Data at Ant Financial (Alibaba) in Credit Risk Management Research

Trevor Bell

June 26, 2015

On June 10, 2015, the research team led by Dr. Zhangxi Lin, Associate Professor in the Area of ISQS, involving Ph.D. student Weihong Ning, and Master's student Zelin Jia, and research partners in Tongji University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, visited the headquarter of Ant Financial at Hangzhou, China. The participants of the meeting from the Ant Financial side include six people from their data platform division and Sesame credit division. Dr. Lin presented nine topics regarding the research progresses in Internet-based credit risk management, and Ant Financial demonstrated their data resource and presented the principle of Sesame credit score.

As a result of the presentation, Ant Financial recognized the value of the research outcomes and is willing to collaborate with the research team coordinated by Dr. Lin. In the next stage Dr. Lin will form a collaborative research team to conduct theoretic research on credit scoring, and Ant Financial will allow Dr. Lin and his team to access high-quality data at its headquarter for research purposes. This is Ant Financial's second time granting the access to its big data for universities in the world, with Beijing University being the first. The data warehouse, named co-creation data platform, is a collection of big data from more than 50 sources, such as Taobao, T-Mall, B2B, Alipay, and Gaode Map.

Ant Financial is a corporate group affiliated to Alibaba Group, which is the world's largest IPO by now and next to Google regarding its market cap (more than $250 billion). Ant Financial provides multiple services including third-party payment platform Alipay, online monetary fund Yu'ebao, P2P lending platform Zhaocaibao, Sesame credit, and a newly approved private banking business. It is the business core in the Alibaba system and currently preparing for another IPO, following Alibaba's IPO in 2014.

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Figure 1. The path of Alibaba's evolution (Source: online)

One of Alibaba's core competiveness is its possession of big data. According to Mr. Jack Ma, leading founder of Alibaba, Alibaba's three-stage strategy is "platform, finance, and data." After its success in financial innovations, Alibaba is promoting radically big data business research and applications. In late 2014, Alibaba founded Institute of Data Science and Technology (IDST) at Seattle focusing on advanced data science research projects. The latest news about Alibaba's move is its investment of $200 million in SMG for big data based media services on June 4, 2015.

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Figure 2. Aliaba's business ecosystem (Source: online)

Earlier, on May 25, Dr. Lin met Ant Financial's CTO and the key persons in the data partnership division, exchanged the research ideas briefly, and scheduled the meeting on June 10, 2015. Dr. Lin has been working closely with Alipay, an E-payment service of Ant Financial, since 2011. In 2013 during his faculty development leave, Dr. Lin met Alipay's risk control teams regularly and developed a new credit risk management framework in 2013, which is rooted in Alipay's daily practices and closely matches Ant Financial's current business model.

Weihong Ning and Zelin Jia will be working at Ant Financial's headquarter this summer as the first group of researchers after they sign the required paperwork. The main task in the first stage is to explore the data warehouse, and then to refine current research papers with the data provided by Ant Financial.

To better explore the precious research data resource by Ant Financial, Texas Tech's team is allying members from eight top universities in China, five of them being "985" universities and three "211" universities, forming a research consortium called "Internet Credit Research Alliance." Dr. Lin will host a meeting at Hefei on June 27 during CSWIM 2015.

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Figure 3. The research team at the lobby of Ant Financial building (from the right, 1. Zelin Jia, 3. Weihong Ning, 4. Zhangxi Lin; 2 & 5 are Ant Financial engineers; 6 is Dr. Zhijun Ding, Tongji University; 7 & 8 are Dr. Jiafen Liu and Dr. Haichao Zheng from Southwestern University of Finance & Economics, Texas Tech's partner university in China)
 
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Figure 4. The team at the Ant Financial office.
This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.