WeBank, China's first private online bank, gave out its first individual loan on Sunday, "witnessed" by Premier Li Keqiang, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. WeBank -- co-founded by Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. -- is among the five pilot private Internet banks approved by China's regulators last year to serve individuals and micro and small-sized enterprises as part of the nation's efforts to open up its state-dominated banking industry and spur economic growth. Li manned a computer keyboard during his visit to the bank's headquarters, located in the southern city of Shenzhen, to help grant a truck driver a loan of 35,000 yuan ($5,600), the Xinhua report said. "This is one small step for WeBank, but one giant leap for financial reform," the news agency quoted Li as saying, adding that the establishment of the online private bank could force the traditional banking sector to speed up its reforms. WeBank, which operates exclusively over the Internet, gives out loans based on credit scores and verified via facial-recognition technology, requiring no collateral asset guarantees for the borrower, Xinhua said.
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