Company Quick10K Filing
Jianpu Technology
20-F 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-04-23
20-F 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-04-27

JT 20F Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Company
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert
Item 16B. Code of Ethics
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant
Item 16G. Corporate Governance
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
EX-8.1 a18-41961_1ex8d1.htm
EX-12.1 a18-41961_1ex12d1.htm
EX-12.2 a18-41961_1ex12d2.htm
EX-13.1 a18-41961_1ex13d1.htm
EX-13.2 a18-41961_1ex13d2.htm
EX-15.1 a18-41961_1ex15d1.htm
EX-15.2 a18-41961_1ex15d2.htm

Jianpu Technology Earnings 2018-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

20-F 1 a18-41961_120f.htm 20-F

Table of Contents

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 20-F

 

(Mark One)

 

o

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

OR

 

 

x

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018.

 

 

OR

 

 

o

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from                  to                  

OR

 

 

o

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report

 

For the transition period from                       to                        

 

Commission file number: 001-38278

 

Jianpu Technology Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

Not Applicable

(Translation of Registrant’s Name Into English)

 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

 

21/F Internet Finance Center

Danling Street, Beijing

People’s Republic of China

Telephone: +86-10-8302-3688

Email: ir@rong360.com

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange On Which Registered

American depositary shares, each two
American depositary shares representing five
Class A ordinary share
Class A ordinary shares, par value
US$0.0001 per share*

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

*              Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on the New York Stock Exchange of American depositary shares.

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

 

None

(Title of Class)

 

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

 

None

(Title of Class)

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:

 

As of December 31, 2018, there were 415,246,557 ordinary shares outstanding, par value US$0.0001 per share, being the sum of 312,774,762 Class A ordinary shares and 102,471,795 Class B ordinary shares.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

o Yes   x No

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

o Yes   x No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).

x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer o

 

Accelerated filer o

 

Non-accelerated filer x

 

Emerging growth company x

 

If an emerging growth company that prepare its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. x

 

The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

 

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP x

 

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board
o

 

Other o

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

o Item 17   o Item 18

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

o Yes   x No

 

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

1

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

2

PART I

3

 

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

3

 

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

3

 

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

3

 

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

40

 

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

61

 

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

61

 

ITEM 6.

DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

77

 

ITEM 7.

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

89

 

ITEM 8.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

90

 

ITEM 9.

THE OFFER AND LISTING

91

 

ITEM 10.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

91

 

ITEM 11.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

102

 

ITEM 12.

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

102

PART II

104

 

ITEM 13.

DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

104

 

ITEM 14.

MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS

104

 

ITEM 15.

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

105

 

ITEM 16A.

AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

106

 

ITEM 16B.

CODE OF ETHICS

106

 

ITEM 16C.

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

107

 

ITEM 16D.

EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

107

 

ITEM 16E.

PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

107

 

ITEM 16F.

CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

107

 

ITEM 16G.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

107

 

ITEM 16H.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

107

PART III

108

 

ITEM 17.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

108

 

ITEM 18.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

108

 

ITEM 19.

EXHIBITS

108

SIGNATURES

110

 

i


Table of Contents

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Except where the context otherwise requires and for purposes of this annual report only:

 

·                  “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” refer, prior to the Restructuring, to the platform business of RONG360 and, after the Restructuring, to Jianpu Technology Inc., a Cayman Islands exempted company and its subsidiaries and, in the context of describing our operations and consolidated financial information, also include its consolidated variable interest entities;

 

·                  “China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purpose of this annual report only, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau;

 

·                  “Class A ordinary shares” refers to our Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

·                  “Class B ordinary shares” refers to our Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

·                  “shares” or “ordinary shares” refers to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;

 

·                  “ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares, each two of which represent five Class A ordinary shares;

 

·                  “RONG360” means RONG360 Inc., a Cayman Islands exempted company, its subsidiaries and its consolidated variable interest entity, but, prior to the Restructuring, exclude Jianpu Technology Inc., its subsidiaries and its consolidated variable interest entities; and

 

·                  the “platform business” refers to the operation of our open platform for the discovery and recommendation of financial products, including recommendation services and advertising, marketing services and other services.

 

For financial service providers, we generally consider each separate legal entity as one provider. For example, nationwide banks operate with multiple legal entities at provincial and local levels, and each entity has autonomy over product features and credit policies. Accordingly, we treat each legal entity as one financial provider.

 

We apply the following principles in counting the number of financial products offered through our platform:

 

·                  loan products issued by the same financial service provider under the same credit policy within the same geographic area are generally considered one product;

 

·                  credit card products issued by the same issuer under the same card policy are generally considered one product; and

 

·                  wealth management products with the same issuer, expected rate of return, product features and investor tier are generally considered one product.

 

Our reporting currency is the Renminbi because our business is mainly conducted in China and all of our revenues are denominated in Renminbi. This annual report contains translations of Renminbi amounts into U.S. dollars at specific rates solely for the convenience of the reader. The conversion of Renminbi into U.S. dollars in this annual report is based on the exchange rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to Renminbi in this annual report were made at a rate of RMB6.8755 to US$1.00, the exchange rate in effect on December 28, 2018 set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, the rates stated below, or at all.

 

The PRC government imposes control over its foreign currency reserves in part through direct regulation of the conversion of Renminbi into foreign exchange and through restrictions on foreign trade.

 

1


Table of Contents

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of current or historical facts are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

 

You can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “likely to” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

·                  our goals and strategies;

 

·                  our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;

 

·                  expected changes in our revenues, costs or expenditures;

 

·                  our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our services;

 

·                  prospects for and competition in our industry, and

 

·                  government policies and regulations relating to our industry.

 

You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. Other sections of this annual report include additional factors which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

 

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

This annual report on Form 20-F also contains statistical data and estimates that we obtained from industry publications and reports generated by third-party providers of market intelligence, including the size, growth rates and other data relating to the financial services market in China. Although we have not independently verified the data, we believe that the publications and reports are reliable. The market data contained in this annual report involves a number of assumptions, estimates and limitations. The financial services market in China and its components may not grow at the rates projected by market data, or at all. The failure of these markets to grow at the projected rates may have a material adverse effect on our business and the market price of our ADSs. If any one or more of the assumptions underlying the market data turns out to be incorrect, actual results may differ from the projections based on these assumptions. In addition, projections, assumptions and estimates of our future performance and the future performance of the industry in which we operate are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

 

The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this annual report is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

 

2


Table of Contents

 

PART I

 

ITEM 1.                                                IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2.                                                OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 3.                                                KEY INFORMATION

 

A.                                    Selected Financial Data

 

Our Selected Consolidated Financial Data

 

The following selected consolidated statements of comprehensive loss for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and selected consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. Our selected data from consolidated statements of comprehensive loss for the year ended December 31, 2015 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2015 and 2016 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are not included in this annual report. You should read this selected consolidated financial data in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or U.S. GAAP. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for future periods.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Selected Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Loss:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loans(1)

 

116,738

 

238,846

 

1,119,456

 

1,015,407

 

147,686

 

Credit cards

 

38,406

 

64,911

 

228,905

 

750,941

 

109,220

 

Total recommendation services

 

155,144

 

303,757

 

1,348,361

 

1,766,348

 

256,906

 

Advertising, marketing and other services(2)

 

13,229

 

52,630

 

97,412

 

245,494

 

35,706

 

Total revenues

 

168,373

 

356,387

 

1,445,773

 

2,011,842

 

292,612

 

Cost of revenues

 

(34,423

)

(66,683

)

(143,828

)

(223,339

)

(32,483

)

Gross profit

 

133,950

 

289,704

 

1,301,945

 

1,788,503

 

260,129

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales and marketing(3)

 

(262,359

)

(382,915

)

(1,227,896

)

(1,547,518

)

(225,077

)

Research and development

 

(45,358

)

(72,832

)

(153,905

)

(241,270

)

(35,091

)

General and administrative

 

(22,419

)

(16,273

)

(93,718

)

(178,371

)

(25,943

)

Loss from operations

 

(196,186

)

(182,316

)

(173,574

)

(178,656

)

(25,982

)

Net interest income

 

 

 

 

5,037

 

733

 

Others, net

 

12

 

191

 

(169

)

9,360

 

1,361

 

Loss before income tax

 

(196,174

)

(182,125

)

(173,743

)

(164,259

)

(23,888

)

Income tax (expenses)/benefits

 

 

 

(28,382

)

4,473

 

651

 

Net loss

 

(196,174

)

(182,125

)

(202,125

)

(159,786

)

(23,237

)

Less: net income attributable to noncontrolling interests

 

 

 

 

4,829

 

702

 

 

3


Table of Contents

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Net loss attributable to Jianpu’s shareholders

 

(196,174

)

(182,125

)

(202,125

)

(164,615

)

(23,939

)

Other comprehensive loss, net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign currency translation adjustments

 

 

 

(21,170

)

59,658

 

8,677

 

Total other comprehensive (loss)/income

 

 

 

(21,170

)

59,658

 

8,677

 

Total comprehensive loss

 

(196,174

)

(182,125

)

(223,295

)

(100,128

)

(14,560

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less: total comprehensive income attributable to noncontrolling interests

 

 

 

 

5,568

 

810

 

Total comprehensive loss attributable to Jianpu’s shareholders

 

(196,174

)

(182,125

)

(223,295

)

(105,696

)

(15,370

)

Net loss per share attributable to Jianpu’s Shareholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

(0.57

)

(0.53

)

(0.57

)

(0.39

)

(0.06

)

Net loss per ADS(4) attributable to Jianpu’s shareholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

(1.43

)

(1.33

)

(1.43

)

(0.98

)

(0.15

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted average number of shares(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

345,541,350

 

345,541,350

 

353,452,309

 

417,315,644

 

417,315,644

 

 


Notes:

 

(1)         Including revenues from related party of nil, RMB19.9 million, RMB103.0 million and RMB105.5 million (US$15.3 million) for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

(2)         Including revenues from related party of nil, nil, nil and RMB13.4 million (US$1.9 million) for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

(3)         Including expenses from related party of nil, nil, nil and RMB40.2 million (US$5.8 million) for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

(4)         Each two ADSs represent five ordinary shares. The issuance of ordinary shares to RONG360 Inc. has been retrospectively reflected for all periods presented herein.

 

(5)         1,500,000,000 shares authorized, US$0.0001 par value. 414,291,350 shares (including 68,750,000 Class A ordinary shares, 345,541,350 Class B ordinary shares) issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2017, and 428,063,797 shares (including 325,592,002 Class A ordinary shares, and 102,471,795 Class B ordinary shares) issued and 415,246,557 shares (including 312,774,762 Class A ordinary shares and 102,471,795 Class B ordinary shares) outstanding as of December 31, 2018, respectively.

 

4


Table of Contents

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

 

 

1,543,811

 

1,270,001

 

184,714

 

Restricted time deposits

 

 

 

 

142,411

 

20,713

 

Short-term investment

 

 

 

 

78,462

 

11,412

 

Accounts receivable, net(1)

 

41,698

 

57,536

 

182,090

 

444,199

 

64,606

 

Amount due from related party

 

 

21,128

 

 

 

 

Prepayments and other current assets

 

20,448

 

50,415

 

161,027

 

160,131

 

23,290

 

Total current assets

 

62,146

 

129,079

 

1,886,928

 

2,095,204

 

304,735

 

Total non-current assets

 

7,965

 

5,404

 

26,587

 

349,931

 

50,895

 

Total assets

 

70,111

 

134,483

 

1,913,515

 

2,445,135

 

355,630

 

Short-term borrowings

 

 

 

 

130,000

 

18,908

 

Accounts payable

 

47,534

 

32,433

 

177,373

 

201,543

 

29,314

 

Advances from customers

 

13,456

 

18,149

 

71,538

 

115,597

 

16,813

 

Tax payable

 

711

 

1,849

 

17,876

 

39,446

 

5,737

 

Amount due to related party

 

 

 

35,427

 

72,750

 

10,581

 

Accrued expenses and other current liabilities

 

21,976

 

29,445

 

72,839

 

144,478

 

21,013

 

Total current liabilities

 

83,677

 

81,876

 

375,053

 

703,814

 

102,366

 

Total non-current liabilities

 

 

 

 

37,403

 

5,440

 

Total liabilities

 

83,677

 

81,876

 

375,053

 

741,217

 

107,806

 

Total invested (deficit)/equity/shareholders’ equity

 

(13,566

)

52,607

 

1,538,462

 

1,703,918

 

247,824

 

 


Note:

 

(1)         Including amounts billed through RONG360 of RMB41,698 thousand, RMB57,536 thousand, RMB141,190 thousand and RMB134,966 thousand as of December 31, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

We have completed a corporate restructuring (“Restructuring,” for more details see “ITEM 4 INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY” — “A. History and Development of the Company”) in order to strengthen our positioning as an independent open platform. As part of the Restructuring, the platform business was transferred from RONG360 to us.

 

B.                                    Capitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not applicable.

 

C.                                    Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not applicable.

 

D.                                    Risk Factors

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

We have incurred significant losses and we may continue to experience losses in the future.

 

We have incurred significant losses in the past. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we had net loss of RMB182.1 million, RMB202.1 million and RMB159.8 million (US$23.2 million), respectively. We also had loss from operations at similar levels during those periods. In addition, we had cash used in operations of RMB239.1 million, RMB28.1 million and RMB72.8 million (US$10.6 million) in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Although we turned profitable and achieved net income in the fourth quarter of 2018, we cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to generate net profits or positive cash flow from operating activities in the future. Our ability to achieve profitability depends in large part on our ability to manage our sales and marketing expenses (excluding share-based compensation), which accounted for 107%, 83.7% and 76.6% of our total revenues in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We intend to manage and further reduce our sales and marketing expenses as a proportion of our total revenues, but there can be no assurance that we will achieve this goal, and we may continue to experience losses in the future.

 

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Our limited operating history in the rapidly evolving online and mobile consumer finance market in China makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects.

 

We have a limited operating history, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and ability to make profit. We launched our online platform in 2012, and introduced big data risk management solutions in 2015 and Gold Cloud in 2016. We operate in China’s online and mobile consumer finance market, which is rapidly evolving and may not develop as we anticipate. There are few established players in this new market and they have relatively short track records, and business models continue to evolve. The regulatory framework governing the industry is also still evolving and will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Other participants in the industry, including users and financial service providers, may have difficulty distinguishing our platform, services and solutions from those of our competitors. As the industry and our business develop, we may modify our business model or change our platform, services and solutions. These changes may not achieve expected results and may have a material and adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

You should consider our business and future annual report in light of the risks and challenges we may encounter in this rapidly evolving industry, including, among other things, our ability to:

 

·                  expand our user base and increase user activities on our platform;

 

·                  provide diversified and distinguishable services and solutions to financial service providers;

 

·                  enhance our data analytical and risk management capabilities;

 

·                  improve our operational efficiency;

 

·                  maintain a reliable, secure, high-performance and scalable technology infrastructure;

 

·                  attract, retain and motivate talented employees;

 

·                  anticipate and adapt to changing market conditions, including technological developments and changes in the competitive landscape; and

 

·                  navigate an evolving and complex regulatory environment.

 

If we fail to address any or all of these risks and challenges, our business and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We face challenges with generating and acquiring user traffic to our platform and converting the traffic into our user base.

 

The majority of user traffic to our platform is generated from third-party channels, rather than from direct access to our mobile apps or website. Our top five traffic acquisition channels accounted for over a third of our user traffic in 2016, 2017 and 2018. We may not be able to promote awareness of our brand and achieve widespread acceptance of our business model to increase direct access to our platform. We have incurred significant expenses on and devoted considerable resources to branding and marketing activities and user traffic acquisition, and we may continue to do so in the future. Our ability to convert user traffic to user base and retain that user base depend on users’ satisfaction with the quantity and quality of financial products offered by financial service providers and trust in the content on our platform. If we fail to meet these challenges, our business, financial performance and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

Failure to maintain relationships with financial service providers or develop new ones may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Our relationship with financial service providers is crucial to our success. We generate substantially all of our revenues from services and solutions provided to financial service providers. Certain financial service providers have accounted for a significant portion of our revenues in the past. In 2016 and 2017, our largest financial service provider was a third-party technology-enabled online lending platform, and it accounted for 19% and 9% of our total revenues in the respective years. In 2018, our largest financial service provider was a credit card issuer, and it accounted for 13% of our total revenue in such year. We work with these financial service providers at arm’s-length and negotiate a cooperation agreement with them on an annual basis based on our business needs and market conditions. While we continually seek to diversify our financial service providers, there can be no assurance that the concentration will further decrease. Our ability to attract users to our platform and maintain and grow our user base depends on the quantity and quality of financial products offered by financial service providers on our platform. We also provide big data risk management solutions and integrated solutions to financial service providers, as well as cooperate with them to provide content on our platform and obtain data for our data analytical models. Our arrangements with our financial service providers are typically not exclusive, and they may have similar arrangements with our competitors. If financial service providers are dissatisfied with our services and solutions, they may terminate their relationships with us and switch to our competitors. Moreover, we have seen financial service providers increasingly rely on their own online and technology capabilities to serve online and mobile users in recent years. There can be no assurance that we can maintain relationships with our existing financial service providers on commercially desirable terms. We may also fail to develop new relationship with additional financial service providers. As a result, our business, financial performance and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Our match and recommendation of financial products to users may not be effective, which will result in dissatisfaction from both users and financial service providers.

 

We may not be able to match users with suitable financial products due to various reasons. Our search and recommendation engine may fail to function properly. The data provided to us by our users, financial service providers and third party data partners may not be accurate or up to date. If users are recommended financial products but cannot ultimately obtain approval from financial service providers, they may consider our platform to be ineffective at matching. At the same time, financial service providers may be dissatisfied with us for not effectively helping them acquire users. After a user gets a financial product, the user may become dissatisfied with the terms and conditions of the financial product or the services provided by the financial service provider, or the financial service provider may have difficulty collecting repayments from the user. Both the user and financial service provider may associate their dissatisfaction and subsequent difficulties with our platform as the transaction was initiated on our platform. Users may consequently be reluctant to continue to use our platform and financial service providers may be hesitant to continue to partner with us. As a result, our business, reputation, financial performance and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

If we are not able to respond to changes in user preferences for financial products and provide a satisfactory user experience on our platform, we will not be able to maintain and expand our user base or effectively convert our users into customers of our financial service providers.

 

We believe that our user base is the cornerstone of our business. Our ability to maintain and expand our user base depends on a number of factors, including our ability to match and recommend suitable financial products for our users, the effectiveness of our curation process, and our ability to provide relevant and timely content to meet changing user needs. If we are unable to respond to changes in user preference and deliver satisfactory and distinguishable user experience, borrowers and prospective borrowers may switch to competing platforms or obtain financial products directly from their providers. As a result, user access to and user activity on our platform will decline, our services and solutions will be less attractive to financial service providers and our business, financial performance and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may not be able to ensure the accuracy of product information and the authenticity of financial products on our platform.

 

The acceptance and popularity of our platform is premised on the reliability of the financial products and information on our platform. We rely on our financial service providers for the authenticity of their financial products and the comprehensiveness, accuracy and timeliness of the related financial information. While the products and information from our financial service providers have been generally reliable, there can be no assurance that the reliability can be maintained in the future. If our financial service providers or their agents provide inauthentic financial products or incomplete, misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent information, we may lose the trust of existing and prospective users. In addition, if our users purchase wealth management products that they discover on our platform and they suffer losses, they may blame us and attempt to hold us responsible for their losses. Our reputation could be harmed and we could experience reduced user traffic to our platform, which would adversely affect our business and financial performance.

 

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We may fail to develop and innovate our platform and products.

 

The attractiveness of our online platform to users and our technology-based services and solutions to financial service providers depend on our ability to innovate. To remain competitive, we must continue to develop and expand our product and service offerings and content. We must also continue to enhance and improve our data analytical capabilities, platform interface and technology infrastructure. These efforts may require us to develop internally, or to license, increasingly complex technologies. In addition, new content, services, solutions and technologies developed and introduced by competitors could render our content, services and solutions obsolete if we are unable to update or modify our own technology. Developing and integrating new content, services, solutions and technologies into our existing platform and infrastructure could be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, any new features and functions may not achieve market acceptance. We may not succeed in incorporating new technologies, or may incur substantial expenses in order to do so. If we fail to develop, introduce, acquire or incorporate new features, functions or technologies effectively and on a timely basis, our business, financial performance and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may fail to compete effectively.

 

The retail financial market in China is rapidly evolving and highly competitive. New competitors may emerge at any time. We may fail to compete for users and/or financial service providers against any of our existing or potential competitors. We compete as an open platform against other companies that also seek to position themselves as open platforms serving both borrowers and financial service providers. We also compete with online platforms for financial products that are affiliated with major internet companies, including search engine, social media, e-commerce and online payment companies. Some of these internet companies also offer their financial products on our platform, so they both compete and cooperate with us. In addition, we compete with financial service providers to the extent that they offer or list financial products on their own platform, although some of these financial service providers may also offer or list financial products on our platform as well. Such financial service providers may stop utilizing our platform in order to enhance the competitiveness of their own platforms. Existing or potential competitors may have substantially greater brand recognition and possess more financial, marketing and research resources than we do. Our competitors may introduce platforms with more attractive products, content and features, or services or solutions with competitive pricing or enhanced performance that we cannot match. In addition, some of our competitors may have more resources to develop or acquire new technologies and react quicker to changing requirements of users and/or financial service providers. If we fail to compete effectively, our business, financial performance and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

We have limited control over the product and service quality of our financial service providers.

 

As users access financial products through our platform, they may have the impression that we are at least partially responsible for the quality of these products, especially in the case of loans that are offered through our Gold Cloud system, where the user continues to interact with our platform throughout the discovery, application, approval and loan servicing process. Although we have established standards to screen financial service providers before listing their products on our platform, and to a certain extent rank the financial products based on past user experience when we make recommendations to users, we have limited control over the quality of the financial products and the services provided by financial service providers. In the event that a user is dissatisfied with a financial product or the service of a financial service provider, we do not have any means to directly make improvements in response to user complaints. Due to the large number of financial products listed on our platform and the extensiveness of our financial service provider network, it is extremely difficult for us to monitor and ensure the product and service quality of financial service providers on our platform at any given time. If users become dissatisfied with the financial products available on our platform or the services of our financial service providers, our business, reputation, financial performance and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our business may be affected by the condition and competitive landscape of China’s credit markets.

 

Changes in the condition of China’s credit markets generally impact the demand and supply of financial products, which in turn will affect user traffic and user activity on our platform and the demand for our services and solutions by financial service providers. The range, pricing and terms of financial products available in the market partly result from competition among financial service providers. Because the financial products on our platform are provided by third parties, we are not able to ensure they meet users’ needs and preferences at any given time. In a rising interest rate environment, our users may seek funding through other means. In a declining interest rate environment, borrowers may choose to refinance their loans with lower-priced financial products, which may not be available on our platform. There can be no assurance that our financial service providers can respond to fluctuations in interest rates in a timely manner by adjusting the financial product listings on our platform.

 

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A credit crisis or prolonged downturn in the credit markets could severely impact our operating environment. A credit crisis or prolonged downturn in the credit markets might cause tightening in credit guidelines, limited liquidity, deterioration in credit performance and increased foreclosure activities. Since we predominantly generate our revenues from fees charged for our sales and marketing services and not on the basis of outstanding loan amounts, a decrease in transaction volumes could cause a material decline in our revenues, even though we do not bear credit risk in the event of borrower default. Moreover, a financial and credit crisis may be coupled with or trigger a downturn in the macroeconomic environment, which could cause a general decrease in lending activity over a longer period of time. If a credit crisis were to occur, particularly in China’s credit markets, our business, financial performance and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Regulatory uncertainties relating to online consumer finance in China could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our business or the businesses of our financial service providers may be subject to a variety of PRC laws and regulations governing financial services. The application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are ambiguous and may be interpreted and applied inconsistently between different government authorities. In particular, the PRC government’s regulatory framework governing the new and rapidly-evolving online consumer finance market, which is the source of the transactions that our platform facilitates is rapidly evolving and is subject to further change and interpretation. The PRC government may enhance the implementation of existing laws and regulations, and may also adopt a stringent regulatory framework for the online and mobile consumer finance market in the future, and impose specific requirements (including licensing requirements) on market participants. It may be costly for us to comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations. If our practice is deemed to violate any existing or future laws and regulations, we may face injunctions, including orders to cease illegal activities, and may be subject to other penalties as determined by the relevant government authorities. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been subject to any material fines or other penalties under any PRC laws or regulations on our business operations. Furthermore, a significant number of financial service providers on our platform operate in the online and mobile consumer finance market, and consequently, new government laws and regulations, stricter enforcement of existing laws and regulations or even speculation regarding such developments on our financial service providers may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and prospects. For recent updates of relevant laws and regulations, please also refer to “—If any financial product on our platform or the business practice of us or any of our financial service providers is deemed to violate any new or existing PRC laws or regulations, our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.”

 

PRC laws and regulations governing personal credit reporting businesses in China are still at an initial stage and subject to further change and interpretation. If we are deemed to engage in a personal credit reporting business and violate any PRC laws or regulations related to personal credit reporting businesses, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

The PRC government has adopted several regulations governing personal credit reporting businesses. According to the Administrative Regulations on the Credit Reporting Industry, which was promulgated by the State Council and became effective in 2013, “personal credit reporting business” means the activities of collecting, organizing, storing and processing “information related to the credit standing” of individuals as well as providing the information to others, and a “credit reporting agency” refers to a duly established agency whose primary business is credit reporting. These regulations, together with the Administrative Measures for Credit Reporting Agencies, which was promulgated by the People’s Bank of China and became effective in 2013, set forth qualification standards for entities conducting a credit reporting business in China, rules and requirements for credit reporting businesses and operating standards for credit reporting agencies. According to these regulations and measures, no entity may engage in personal credit reporting business without approval by the credit reporting industry regulatory department under the State Council. If any entity directly engages in personal credit reporting business without such approval, the entity is subject to penalties including suspension of business, confiscation of revenues related to personal credit reporting business, fines of RMB50,000 (US$7,272) to RMB500,000 (US$72,722) and criminal liabilities.

 

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We organize, store and analyze information provided by users and data provided by financial service providers and third-party data partners. This information and data contains certain personal information of users, a portion of which we may provide to financial service providers using our big data risk management solutions with user consent. Due to the lack of further interpretations of the current regulations governing personal credit reporting businesses, the exact definition and scope of “information related to credit standing” and “personal credit reporting business” under the current regulations are unclear. It is therefore uncertain whether we would be deemed to engage in personal credit reporting business because of our big data risk management solutions. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been subject to any fines or other penalties under any PRC laws or regulations related to personal credit reporting business. However, given the evolving regulatory environment of the personal credit reporting industry, and the fact that the People’s Bank of China, the credit reporting industry regulatory department under the State Council, granted in February 2018 a personal credit reporting businesses license to an entity incorporated under the guidance of the People’s Bank of China, we cannot assure you that we will not be required in the future by the relevant governmental authorities to obtain approval or license for personal credit reporting business in order to continue offering our big data risk management solutions. Our business may also become subject to other rules and requirements related to credit reporting business, or new rules and requirements (including approval or license regime) promulgated by the relevant authorities in the future. The existing and future rules and regulations may be costly to comply with, and we may not be able to obtain any required license or other regulatory approvals in a timely manner, or at all. If we are subject to penalties for any of the foregoing reasons, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We provide recommendation services for financial service providers, which may constitute provision of intermediary service, and our agreements with these financial service providers may be deemed as intermediation contracts under the PRC Contract Law.

 

Under the PRC Contract Law, if an intermediary conceals any material fact intentionally or provides false information in connection with the conclusion of a proposed transaction, which results in harm to a client’s interests, the intermediary may not claim for service fees and is liable for any damages caused. We provide recommendation services for financial service providers, which may constitute provision of intermediary service, and our agreements with these financial service providers may be deemed as intermediation contracts under the PRC Contract Law, as a consequence, if we intentionally conceal material information or provide false information to financial service providers, or if we fail to identify false information received from users or any third party and in turn provide such information to financial service providers, we could be held liable for damages caused to financial service providers as an intermediary pursuant to the PRC Contract Law. On the other hand, we should not assume any liability relating to possible disputes between financial service providers and users with respect to the financial products provided by the financial service providers to the users, solely on the basis of providing recommendations regarding such financial service products, as long as we do not intentionally conceal any material fact or provide false information, and are not found at fault. However, due to the lack of detailed regulations and guidance in the area of financial product recommendation services and the possibility that the PRC government authorities may promulgate new laws and regulations regulating financial product recommendation services in the future, there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current or future PRC laws and regulations for financial product recommendation services, and there can be no assurance that the PRC government authority will share our views.

 

If any financial product on our platform or the business practice of us or any of our financial service providers is deemed to violate any new or existing PRC laws or regulations, our business, reputation, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Financial products and the businesses of our financial service providers are regulated in China. We may be indirectly subject to PRC financial regulations as a result of the financial products on our platform and our services to and cooperation with financial service providers. On December 1, 2017, the Internet Finance Rectification Office and the Online Lending Rectification Office jointly issued the Notice on Regulating and Rectifying “Cash Loan” Business, or the Circular 141, and on December 8, 2017, the Online Lending Rectification Office issued the Notice on the Rectification and Inspection Acceptance of Risk of Online Lending Intermediaries, or the Circular 57, both of which outlined more specific requirements on financial service providers. In addition, in March 2018, the Internet Finance Rectification Office issued the Notice on Strengthening the Rectification of Asset Management through the Internet and Carrying on the Inspection and Acceptance, or the Circular 29, which outlines more strict and specific requirements on the practices of asset management business (including wealth management plan) through the Internet, such as requirement on obtaining necessary licenses, prohibition of the sale on an agency basis or provision of sale agency service in any disguised form, by any Internet platform of any asset management products provided by any financial asset exchange which is not in full compliance with applicable laws.

 

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In August 2018, the Online Lending Rectification Office issued the Notice on Launching Compliance Inspection on Peer-to-Peer Online Lending Institutions, or the Inspection Notice, which requires peer-to-peer online lending institutions to complete compliance inspections (including self-inspection, inspection conducted by local and national Internet Finance Association and verification conducted by the competent rectification office in charge of the peer-to-peer online lending) pursuant to the Inspection Notice and the Compliance Checklist for Online Peer-to-Peer Lending Institutions as specified in the Inspection Notice. Afterwards, in December 2018, the Internet Finance Rectification Office and the Online Lending Rectification Office jointly issued the Opinions on Properly Carrying out the Classified Disposal and Risk Prevention of Online Lending Institutions, or the Circular 175, which reiterates the principle, as specified in certain previous guidelines, that the local rectification offices shall take effective measures to ensure the decrease of the total number, the business scales and the amount of investors and borrowers of the peer-to-peer online lending institutions, during the rectification period. Furthermore, Circular 175 requires the local rectification offices, based on the results of the compliance inspections, to classify the peer-to-peer online lending institutions into different categories according to their compliance and business risk conditions, and to require or provide guidance for the institutions to clean up their peer-to-peer online lending business unless they are strictly in compliance with applicable laws and with a large business scale and good business operation conditions. Some of the financial service providers on our platform are peer-to-peer online lending institutions. If any of those peer-to-peer online lending institutions fails to strictly comply with applicable laws and maintain a good operation condition, it may not be allowed to continue its business and consequently our business, financial condition and prospects may be materially and adversely affected. If any financial product on our platform is deemed to violate any PRC laws or regulations, we may be liable for listing the product or assisting in offering the product on our platform, even if we are not its provider.

 

If any of our financial service providers is deemed to violate any PRC laws or regulations, we may be jointly liable due to the services or solutions we provide. We may have to remove financial products from our platform or terminate relationship with financial service providers. Although we have implemented internal control procedures reviewing and examining the products on our platform to ensure their compliance with relevant provisions, as we have limited control over the financial products and the services provided by financial service providers, if any financial product on our platform is deemed to violate any laws, rules or regulations, we may face, among others, regulatory warnings, correction orders, condemnation, fines and criminal liability. As a result, our business, reputation, financial performance and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

For instance, recently it was reported by CCTV “315 Night” (CCTV Report), a show concerning consumer rights protection which airs annually on March 15, that certain financial products offered by third party financial service providers on our platform contained inappropriate conducts, which were suspected of the infringement of consumer rights. In response to the CCTV Report, we promptly organized internal resources to thoroughly review our business practice, including the voluntary suspension of further downloads of our mobile apps on major mobile app stores in order to identify any inappropriate conduct that could adversely affect consumer rights, and to take remediation measures with respect to any inappropriate activity that may be found on our platform. Further to such report, we have been working with the relevant regulators and industry associations to respond to their review and inspections, to further enhance and strengthen our internal control procedures in terms of financial service provider’s on-boarding standard and on-going supervision, and to jointly launch the initiatives of developing a set of industry wide standards or best practice to further promote financial education and consumer rights protection. Although we implement stringent standards to screen financial service providers before listing their products on our platform, we cannot rule out the possibility that the quality of the financial products and the services provided by financial service providers are not in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations at all times.

 

We rely on the accuracy and timeliness of data provided by third parties.

 

As an open platform, we have access to data from users, financial service providers and third-party data partners. We synthesize these multiple sources of data with our data modeling and analytics capability, which drives our product recommendation engine. The information on borrower credit risk available in China may be incomplete or unreliable. The People’s Bank of China has developed and put into use a national personal and corporate credit information database which remains relatively underdeveloped. The information available to us, financial service providers and third-party data partners is limited. We cannot ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the various sources of data that we use. Low quality and inaccurate data could materially affect the accuracy and validity of our matching capability, services and solutions, which could adversely affect our reputation and financial performance.

 

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Any actual or perceived inappropriate usage or mishandling of private information and data on our platform could subject us to liabilities, negatively impact our reputation and deter users from using our platform.

 

Our platform stores and processes certain personal and other sensitive data provided by our users and financial service providers. We also make certain personal information provided by users or third party data providers available to financial service providers using our big data risk management solutions with user consent. There are numerous laws regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, disclosure and protection of personally identifiable information and data. Specifically, personally identifiable and other confidential information is increasingly subject to legislation and regulations in numerous domestic and international jurisdictions. PRC government authorities have enacted a series of laws and regulations relating to the protection of privacy and personal information, under which internet service providers and other network operators are required to clearly indicate the purposes, methods and scope of any information collection and usage, to obtain appropriate user consent and to establish user information protection systems with appropriate remedial measures. However, this regulatory framework for privacy issues in China and worldwide is currently evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. We cannot assure you that our existing privacy and personal protection system and technical measures will be considered sufficient under applicable laws and regulations. We could be adversely affected if legislation or regulations in China are expanded to require changes in business practices or privacy policies, or if the PRC governmental authorities interpret or implement their legislation or regulations in ways that negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition to laws, regulations and other applicable rules regarding privacy and privacy advocacy, industry groups or other private parties may propose new and different privacy standards. Because the interpretation and application of privacy and data protection laws and privacy standards are still uncertain, it is possible that these laws or privacy standards may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent with our practices. Any inability to adequately address privacy concerns, even if unfounded, or to comply with applicable privacy or data protection laws, regulations and privacy standards, could result in additional cost and liability for us, damage our reputation, inhibit the use of our platform and harm our business.

 

Fraudulent activity conducted through our platform or using the brand name of RONG360 could negatively impact our brand and reputation and cause the use of our platform to decrease.

 

We are subject to fraudulent activity on our platform or being perpetrated purportedly in the brand name of RONG360, sometimes through sophisticated schemes or collusion. Certain of our own employees may be corrupted and participate in fraudulent or otherwise illegal activities. Our resources, technologies, fraud detection tools and risk management system may be insufficient to accurately detect and timely prevent fraud and misconduct. For instance, it was found recently that certain third parties were racketeering or conducting predatory collection practices in the name of RONG360, which may have imposed negative impact on our brand and reputation. Significant increases in fraudulent activity could negatively impact our brand and reputation, result in losses suffered by users and financial service providers, and reduce user access to and user activity on our platform. We may need to adopt additional measures to prevent and reduce fraud, which could increase our costs. We anticipate that we will continue to be subject to claims on the fraudulent activity being perpetrated purportedly in the brand name of RONG360, and may incur extra costs and expenses as a result. High profile fraudulent activity could even lead to regulatory intervention, and may divert our management’s attention and cause us to incur additional expenses and costs. If any of the foregoing were to occur, our reputation and financial performance could be materially and adversely affected.

 

If we fail to effectively manage our growth, our business and operating results could be harmed.

 

We continue to experience rapid growth in our business, which will continue to place significant demands on our management, operational and financial resources. We may encounter difficulties as we expand our operations, data and technology, sales and marketing, and general and administrative functions. We expect our expenses to continue to increase in the future as we acquire more users, launch new technology development projects and build additional technology infrastructure. Continued growth could also strain our ability to maintain the quality and reliability of our platform and services, develop and improve our operational, financial, legal and management controls, and enhance our reporting systems and procedures. Our expenses may grow faster than our revenues, and our expenses may be greater than we anticipate. We may expand into geographic areas where we do not have experience with local regulations or regulators or where local market conditions are unfavorable for our business model. Managing our growth will require significant expenditures and allocation of valuable management resources. If we fail to achieve the necessary level of efficiency in our organization as it grows, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.

 

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Our business depends on the continued efforts of our senior management. If one or more of our key executives were unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, our business may be severely disrupted.

 

Our business operations depend on the continued services of our senior management, particularly our co-founders and the executive officers named in this annual report. While we have provided different incentives to our management, we cannot assure you that we can continue to retain their services. If one or more of our key executives were unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we may not be able to find suitable replacements, our future growth may be constrained, our business may be severely disrupted and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, although we have entered into confidentiality and non-competition agreements with our management, there is no assurance that any member of our management team will not join our competitors or form a competing business. If any dispute arises between our current or former officers and us, we may have to incur substantial costs and expenses in order to enforce such agreements in China or we may not be able to enforce them at all.

 

We may not be able to attract and retain the qualified and skilled employees needed to support our business.

 

We believe our future success depends on our continued ability to attract, develop, motivate and retain qualified and skilled employees. Competition for highly skilled sales and marketing, technical, risk management and financial personnel is extremely intense in China. We may not be able to hire and retain these personnel at compensation levels consistent with our existing compensation and salary structure. Some of the companies with which we compete for experienced employees have greater resources than we have and may be able to offer more attractive terms of employment. In addition, we invest significant time and resources in training our employees, which increases their value to competitors who may seek to recruit them. If we fail to retain our employees, we could incur significant expenses in hiring and training new employees, and our ability to serve users and financial service providers could diminish, resulting in a material adverse effect to our business.

 

Any negative publicity with respect to us, our financial service providers or the industry in which we operate may materially and adversely affect our reputation, brand, business and results of operations.

 

Our brand and reputation are critical to our business and competitiveness. We operate our platform using the “RONG360” brand and tradename in China. Factors that are vital to our reputation include but are not limited to our ability to:

 

·                  effectively match users with financial service providers;

 

·                  provide timely and accurate content on our platform;

 

·                  provide superior user experience on our platform;

 

·                  innovate and improve the services and solutions we provide to financial service providers;

 

·                  effectively manage and resolve complaints from users and financial service providers; and

 

·                  effectively protect private information and data.

 

Any negative publicity about the foregoing or other aspects of our company, including but not limited to our brand, management, business, legal compliance, financial condition or prospects, whether with merit or not, could severely compromise our reputation and harm our business and operating results. In addition, negative publicity with respect to our financial service providers or the industry in which we operate may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. For instance, on March 15, 2019, CCTV’s “315 Night”, an influential show on consumer rights protection, reported that certain financial products offered by third-party financial service providers on our platform contained inappropriate conducts that were suspected of infringement of consumer rights. Although we have promptly responded to the negative media exposure to address user concerns, and organized internal resources to conduct thorough review over our own business practice to identify any inappropriate conduct that could adversely affect consumer rights, the media exposure has had an immediate adverse impact on our reputation and the “RONG360” brand, which in turn may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

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Our future growth depends on the further acceptance of the internet and particularly the mobile internet as an effective platform for disseminating financial products and content.

 

The internet, and particularly the mobile internet, has gained increased popularity in China as a platform for financial products and content in recent years. However, certain lenders, especially traditional financial institutions, and many borrowers have limited experience in handling financial products and content online, and some borrowers may have reservations about using online platforms. For example, users may not find online content to be reliable sources of financial product information. Some financial service providers may not believe online platforms are secure for risk assessment and credit management. Others may not find online platforms effective when promoting and providing their products and services, especially to targeted customers in lower-tier cities or rural areas. If we fail to educate users and financial service providers about the value of our platform and our services and solutions, our growth will be limited and our business, financial performance and prospects may be materially and adversely affected. The further acceptance of the internet and particularly the mobile internet as an effective and efficient platform for financial products and content is also affected by factors beyond our control, including negative publicity around online and mobile consumer finance and restrictive regulatory measures taken by the PRC government. If online and mobile networks do not achieve adequate acceptance in the market, our growth prospects, results of operations and financial condition could be harmed.

 

Our platform and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical, and if it contains undetected errors, our business could be adversely affected.

 

Our platform and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical and complex. In addition, our platform and internal systems depend on the ability of the software to store, retrieve, process and manage immense amounts of data. The software on which we rely has contained, and may now or in the future contain, undetected errors or bugs. Some errors may only be discovered after the code has been released for external or internal use. Errors or other design defects within the software on which we rely may result in a negative experience for users and financial service providers, delay introductions of new features or enhancements, result in errors or compromise our ability to protect data or our intellectual property. Any errors, bugs or defects discovered in the software on which we rely could result in harm to our reputation, loss of users or financial service providers or liability for damages, any of which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial conditions.

 

Our operations depend on the performance of the internet infrastructure and telecommunications networks in China.

 

Almost all access to the internet in China is maintained through state-owned telecommunication operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. We primarily rely on a limited number of telecommunication service providers to provide us with data communications capacity through local telecommunications lines and internet data centers to host our servers. We have limited access to alternative networks or services in the event of disruptions, failures or other problems with China’s internet infrastructure or the fixed telecommunications networks provided by telecommunication service providers. With the expansion of our business, we may be required to upgrade our technology and infrastructure to keep up with the increasing traffic on our platform. We cannot assure you that the internet infrastructure and the fixed telecommunications networks in China will be able to support the demands associated with the continued growth in internet usage.

 

In addition, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by telecommunication service providers. If the prices we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our financial performance may be adversely affected. Furthermore, if internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, our user traffic may decline and our business may be harmed.

 

Any significant disruption in service on our platform or in our computer systems, including events beyond our control, could reduce the attractiveness of our platform and solutions and result in a loss of users or financial service providers.

 

In the event of a platform outage and physical data loss, the performance of our platform and solutions would be materially and adversely affected. The satisfactory performance, reliability and availability of our platform, solutions and underlying technology infrastructure are critical to our operations and reputation and our ability to retain existing and attract new users and financial service providers. Much of our system hardware is hosted in a leased facility located in Beijing that is operated by our IT staff. We also maintain a real-time backup system in the same facility and a remote backup system at a separate facility also located in Beijing. Our operations depend on our ability to protect our systems against damage or interruption from natural disasters, power or telecommunications failures, air quality issues, environmental conditions, computer viruses or attempts to harm our systems, criminal acts and similar events. If there is a lapse in service or damage to our leased facilities in Beijing, we could experience interruptions and delays in our service and may incur additional expense in arranging new facilities.

 

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Any interruptions or delays in the availability of our platform or solutions, whether as a result of third-party or our error, natural disasters or security breaches, whether accidental or willful, could harm our reputation and our relationships with users and financial service providers. Additionally, in the event of damage or interruption, our insurance policies may not adequately compensate us for any losses that we may incur. Although we conduct regular troubleshooting exercises, our disaster recovery plan has not been tested under actual disaster conditions, and we may not have sufficient capacity to recover all data and services in the event of an outage. These factors could damage our brand and reputation, divert our employees’ attention and subject us to liability, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Any breaches to our security measures, including unauthorized access, computer viruses and hacking, may adversely affect our database, reduce use of our services and damage our reputation and brand names.

 

The massive volume of data that we process and store makes us or third party service providers who host our servers an attractive target and potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins or similar disruptions. While we have taken steps to protect our database, our security measures could be breached. Because techniques used to sabotage or obtain unauthorized access to systems change frequently and generally are not recognized until they are launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventative measures. Any accidental or willful security breaches or other unauthorized access to our platform could cause confidential information to be stolen and used for criminal purposes. Security breaches or unauthorized access to confidential information could also expose us to liability related to the loss of the information, time-consuming and expensive litigation and negative publicity. If security measures are breached because of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise, or if design flaws in our technology infrastructure are exposed and exploited, our relationships with users and financial service providers could be severely damaged, we could incur significant liability and our business and operations could be adversely affected. The PRC Network Security Law, effective on June 1, 2017, stipulates that a network operator, including internet information services providers among others, must adopt technical measures and other necessary measures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations as well as compulsory national and industrial standards to safeguard the safety and stability of network operations, effectively respond to network security incidents, prevent illegal and criminal activities, and maintain the integrity, confidentiality and availability of network data. While we have adopted comprehensive measures to comply with the applicable laws, regulations and standards, there can be no assurance that such measures will be effective. If we were found by the regulatory authorities to have failed to comply with the PRC Network Security Law, we would be subject to warnings, fines, confiscation of illegal gains, revocation of licenses, cancellation of filings, shutdown of our platform or even criminal liability and our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.

 

We may not be able to prevent others from making unauthorized use of our intellectual property.

 

We regard our software registrations, trademarks, domain names, know-how, proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property as critical to our success, and we rely on a combination of intellectual property laws and contractual arrangements, including confidentiality and non-compete agreements with our employees and others to protect our proprietary rights. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Intellectual Property.” Despite these measures, any of our intellectual property rights could be challenged, invalidated, circumvented or misappropriated, or such intellectual property may not be sufficient to provide us with competitive advantages. In addition, there can be no assurance that (i) our application for the registration of trademarks and other intellectual property rights will be approved, (ii) any intellectual property rights will be adequately protected, or (iii) such intellectual property rights will not be challenged by third parties or found by a judicial authority to be invalid or unenforceable. For instance, we are using and will continue to use, or may need to use in the future, certain trademarks including the logo and character of “融 360” for our current and future business operations. The registration applications in the PRC of such trademarks under category 36 (finance related) and category 42 (internet and computer related) were rejected by the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and were further rejected by the Trademark Review Committee (the “Review Committee”). We initiated administrative litigations thereafter against the Review Committee with respect to the aforesaid rejections of our trademark registration applications, and such litigations are still pending and there is no assurance that we will prevail in such litigations and the relevant applications for trademark registration in the PRC will eventually be approved. If these trademarks could not be registered, we may fail to prevent others from using these marks, and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, because of the rapid pace of technological change in our industry, parts of our business rely on technologies developed or licensed by third parties, and we may not be able to obtain or continue to obtain licenses and technologies from these third parties on reasonable terms, or at all.

 

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It is often difficult to register, maintain and enforce intellectual property rights in China. Statutory laws and regulations are subject to judicial interpretation and enforcement and may not be applied consistently due to the lack of clear guidance on statutory interpretation. Confidentiality, invention assignment and non-compete agreements may be breached by counterparties, and there may not be adequate remedies available to us for any such breach. Accordingly, we may not be able to effectively protect our intellectual property rights or to enforce our contractual rights in China. Preventing any unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly and the steps we take may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of our intellectual property. In the event that we resort to litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, such litigation could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our managerial and financial resources. We can provide no assurance that we will prevail in such litigation. In addition, our trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become available to, or be independently discovered by, our competitors. To the extent that our employees or consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for us, disputes may arise as to the rights in related know-how and inventions. Any failure in protecting or enforcing our intellectual property rights could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims, which may be expensive to defend and may disrupt our business and operations.

 

We cannot be certain that our operations or any aspects of our business do not or will not infringe upon or otherwise violate trademarks, patents, copyrights, know-how or other intellectual property rights held by third parties. We may be from time to time in the future subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights of others. In addition, there may be third-party trademarks, patents, copyrights, know-how or other intellectual property rights that are infringed by our products, services or other aspects of our business without our awareness. Holders of such intellectual property rights may seek to enforce such intellectual property rights against us in China, the United States or other jurisdictions. For instance, in April 2019, Beijing Qihoo Technology Co., Ltd. filed a lawsuit in a court in Beijing against our PRC subsidiary and a related party alleging that our use of RONG360 brand and tradename infringes upon its 360 trademark and constitutes unfair competition, and seeking various remedies from us. We believe this lawsuit has no merits and intend to defend ourselves rigorously. For any third-party infringement claims brought against us, we may be forced to divert management’s time and other resources from our business and operations to defend against these claims, regardless of their merits.

 

Additionally, the application and interpretation of China’s intellectual property right laws and the procedures and standards for granting trademarks, patents, copyrights, know-how or other intellectual property rights in China are still evolving and are uncertain, and we cannot assure you that PRC courts or regulatory authorities would agree with our analysis. If we were found to have violated the intellectual property rights of others, we may be subject to liability for our infringement activities or may be prohibited from using such intellectual property, and we may incur licensing fees or be forced to develop alternatives of our own. As a result, our business and financial performance may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud.

 

Our independent registered public accounting firm has not conducted an audit of our internal control over financial reporting. However, in the course of auditing our consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified one material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, in accordance with the standards established by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board of the United States.

 

The material weakness identified relates to the lack of sufficient competent financial reporting and accounting personnel with appropriate understanding of U.S. GAAP to design and implement formal period-end financial reporting policies and procedures, to address complex U.S. GAAP technical accounting issues, and to prepare and review our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures in accordance with U.S. GAAP and financial reporting requirements set forth by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. We have implemented and are continuing to implement a number of measures to address the material weakness and the deficiencies that have been identified. For details, see “Item 15. Controls and Procedures.” However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to continue implementing these measures in the future, or that we will not identify additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the future.

 

We are a public company in the United States subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires that we include a report of management on our internal control over financial reporting in our annual report on Form 20-F beginning with our annual report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2018. In addition, if we cease to be an “emerging growth company” as such term is defined in the JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Our management may conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective. Moreover, even if our management concludes that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, our independent registered public accounting firm, after conducting its own independent testing, may issue a report that is qualified if it is not satisfied with our internal controls or the level at which our controls are documented, designed, operated or reviewed, or if it interprets the relevant requirements differently from us. In addition, our reporting obligations as a public company may place a significant strain on our management, operational and financial resources and systems for the foreseeable future. We may be unable to timely complete our evaluation testing and any required remediation.

 

During the course of documenting and testing our internal control procedures, in order to satisfy the requirements of Section 404, we may identify other weaknesses and deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal control over financial reporting, as these standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404. If we fail to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which would likely cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations, and lead to a decline in the trading price of our ADSs.

 

We face risks associated with the Restructuring and the technology-enabled online lending business operated by RONG360.

 

On July 31, 2018, RONG360 completed the share distribution of our ordinary shares held by it to the existing shareholders of RONG360 in proportion to RONG360’s shareholding structure, and thus completed the Restructuring to strengthen our positioning as an independent open platform. For more details, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” If we were unable to enhance the quality of our platform after the Restructuring, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.

 

RONG360 Inc. and its subsidiaries historically operated both our business and a technology-enabled online lending business. After the platform business was transferred to us as part of the Restructuring, we operate our business under the “Rong360” brand, whereas the technology-enabled online lending business is operated by RONG360 under a separate brand. However, the technology-enabled online lending business may be perceived to be a part of our business, which could subject us to reputational and regulatory risks. Any negative developments with respect to the technology-enabled online lending business and RONG360 may materially and adversely affect our business and brand.

 

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Although the credit decisioning and risk management model of the technology-enabled online lending business is separate and independent from the credit decisioning and risk management solutions of our business, if our users or financial service providers believe otherwise, they may lose confidence in our data analytical capabilities. The technology-enabled online lending online business is expected to be a financial service provider on our platform under an information service cooperation agreement on terms and conditions similar to those we have with third party financial service providers. In addition, the technology-enabled online lending business will receive operational, administrative, human resources, legal, accounting and internal control support from us through a transitional services agreement for twelve months, and the effective period has already been extended by mutual consent. If our arrangements with the technology-enabled online lending business or RONG360 are perceived by users or other financial service providers to be not on commercially reasonable terms, our reputation as an independent open platform may be damaged and our business and results of operations may be adversely affected. Furthermore, although RONG360 is expected to have its own separate senior management team, certain of our directors and executive officers may continue to provide advisory and other services to RONG360 These relationships could create, or appear to create, conflicts of interest when these persons are faced with decisions with potentially different implications for us and the technology-enabled online lending business. Business opportunities may arise that both we and RONG360 find attractive, and which would complement our respective businesses. The technology-enabled online lending business may wish to take the opportunities itself, which would hinder us from taking advantage of those opportunities. In addition, we may compete with the technology-enabled online lending business in the hiring of new employees, in particular with respect to credit decisioning and risk management related matters. We may not be able to resolve any potential conflicts which may have material adverse effect on our business.

 

We may be subject to liability associated with the advertisements on our platform.

 

As we generate a small portion of our revenues by providing advertising services to financial service providers, we are required to establish and continually improve a management system for such internet advertising activities. We are required to examine, review, verify and register the names, addresses and other valid contact and identity information of those who choose to place their advertisements on our platform on a regular basis. We must establish archives for the registration and verify and update the archives on a regular basis. Prior to publishing any advertisement, we are required to review its content against the relevant advertising certificate and ensure the content matches the certificate. Furthermore, we must have personnel who are familiar with advertising regulations to review the advertisements. While we have a review procedure prior to publishing, we cannot guarantee that we can entirely eliminate advertisements with content that would be deemed inappropriate or misleading. If we are deemed to be in violation of PRC law or regulations on advertising, we may be subject to penalties, including suspension of publishing, confiscation of the revenues related to these advertisements, levying of fines and suspension or termination of our advertising service, any of which may adversely affect our business. Advertisements, which are not otherwise misleading, could be perceived as affecting the unbiased search results by our users and financial service providers. As a result, trust in our platform may decline and users may stop using our platform.

 

We may be held liable for information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our platform, which may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.

 

The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet access and distribution of information over the internet. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet content that, among other things, violates PRC laws and regulations, impairs the national dignity of China, contains terrorism, extremism, content of force or brutality, or is reactionary, obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content and other licenses, the closure of the concerned websites and criminal liabilities. In the past, failure to comply with these requirements has resulted in the closure of certain websites. The website operator may also be held liable for the censored information displayed on or linked to the website.

 

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In particular, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published regulations that subject website operators to potential liability for content displayed on their websites and the actions of users and others using their systems, including liability for violations of PRC laws and regulations prohibiting the dissemination of content deemed to be socially destabilizing. The Ministry of Public Security has the authority to order any local internet service provider to block any internet website at its sole discretion. From time to time, the Ministry of Public Security has stopped the dissemination over the internet of information which it believes to be socially destabilizing. The State Secrecy Bureau is also authorized to block any website it deems to be leaking state secrets or failing to meet the relevant regulations relating to the protection of state secrets in the dissemination of online information. Furthermore, we are required to report any suspicious content to relevant governmental authorities, and to undergo computer security inspections. If we fail to implement the relevant safeguards against security breaches, our websites may be shut down and our business and ICP licenses may be revoked.

 

According to the Administrative Provisions on Mobile Internet Applications Information Services which was promulgated by the Cyberspace Administration of China and became effective in August 2016, providers of mobile apps may not create, copy, publish or distribute information and content that is prohibited by laws and regulations. We are required to adopt and implement management systems of information security and establish and improve procedures on content examination and administration. We must adopt such measures as warning, restricted release, suspension of updates and close of accounts, keep relevant records, and report unlawful content to competent government authorities. We have implemented internal control procedures screening the information and content on our mobile apps to ensure their compliance with these provisions. However, there can be no assurance that all the information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our mobile apps complies with the requirements of the provisions at all times. If our mobile apps were found to violate the provisions, we may be subject to administrative penalties, including warning, service suspension or removal of our mobile apps from the relevant mobile app store, which may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.

 

In addition, the Administrative Measures for Financial Information Services, effective on February 1, 2019, set forth that the financial information service providers shall not produce, copy, publish or spread information that contains any of the following contents: (i) false financial information endangering national financial security or social stability, (ii) distorting national fiscal and monetary policies or financial management policies disrupting the economic orders or damaging national interests; (iii) instigating any other person to commit commercial fraud or economic crime causing any social impact, (iv) fabricating any event or news on the securities, funds, futures, foreign exchange and other financial markets, (v) publicizing financial products and services prohibited by the competent departments, and (vi) any other content prohibited by laws, regulations or rules. Furthermore, financial information service providers are required to formulate internal service standards including the content review standard. Due to the lack of detailed interpretations of such measures, there is still uncertainty as to whether we shall be deemed as financial information service provider regulated by such measures. We have proactively implemented internal control policy screening the information and content on our website and mobile apps to ensure their compliance with the provisions of the Administrative Measures for Financial Information Services. However, there can be no assurance that all the information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our website and mobile apps complies with the requirements of the provisions at all times. If we were deemed as violating the requirements under the Administrative Measures for Financial Information Services, we may be subject to inquiries, public condemnation, rectification, or brought into the blacklist for the dishonest, or even subject to administrative penalties or criminal liabilities.

 

We may also become involved in legal disputes with third parties that disagree with the content on our platform. For example, a financial service provider that received a low rating from our reports filed a lawsuit claiming that we engaged in unfair competition. While this lawsuit was dismissed by the court and subsequently withdrawn by the plaintiff, there can be no assurance that we will successfully defend ourselves against similar lawsuits in the future. In addition, such lawsuits could result in substantial cost and a diversion of our managerial and financial resources.

 

We have limited insurance coverage which could expose us to significant costs and business disruption.

 

The insurance industry in China is still in an early stage of development, and insurance companies in China currently offer limited business-related insurance products. We do not maintain business interruption insurance or general third-party liability insurance, nor do we maintain property insurance, product liability insurance. We consider our insurance coverage to be reasonable in light of the nature of our business and the insurance products that are available in China and in line with the practices of other companies in the same industry of similar size in China, but we cannot assure you that our insurance coverage is sufficient to prevent us from any loss or that we will be able to successfully claim our losses under our current insurance policies on a timely basis, or at all. If we incur any loss that is not covered by our insurance policies, or the compensated amount is significantly less than our actual loss, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Future investments in and acquisitions of assets, technologies and businesses may fail and may result in equity and earnings dilution and significant diversion of management attention.

 

We may further invest in or acquire assets, technologies and businesses that are complementary to our existing business. This may include opportunities to expand our service offerings and strengthen our technology infrastructure and data analytical capabilities. Our investments or acquisitions may not yield the results we expect. In addition, investments and acquisitions could result in the use of substantial amounts of cash, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, significant amortization expenses related to intangible assets, significant diversion of management attention and exposure to potential unknown liabilities of the acquired business. Moreover, the cost of identifying and consummating investments and acquisitions, and integrating the acquired businesses into ours, may be significant, and the integration of acquired businesses may be disruptive to our existing business operations. In the event that our investments and acquisitions are not successful, our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may not be able to obtain additional capital when desired, on favorable terms or at all.

 

We believe our cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2018 will be sufficient to meet our current and anticipated needs for general corporate purposes for at least the next 12 months. However, we need to make continued investments in facilities, hardware, software, technological systems and to retain talents to remain competitive, by using funds from bank borrowings and operating cash inflows. Due to the unpredictable nature of the capital markets and our industry, there can be no assurance that we will be able to raise additional capital on terms favorable to us, or at all, if and when required, especially if we experience disappointing operating results. If adequate capital is not available to us as required, our ability to fund our operations, take advantage of unanticipated opportunities, develop or enhance our infrastructure or respond to competitive pressures could be significantly limited. If we do raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the ownership interests of our shareholders could be significantly diluted. These newly issued securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing shareholders.

 

Privacy concerns relating to our products and services and the use of user information could damage our reputation, deter current and potential users and customers from using our products and services, and negatively impact our business.

 

We collect personal data from our users in order to better understand our users and their needs. Concerns about the collection, use, disclosure or security of personal information or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, could damage our reputation, cause us to lose users and customers and adversely affect our operating results. While we strive to comply with applicable data protection laws and regulations, as well as our own posted privacy policies and other obligations we may have with respect to privacy and data protection, the failure or perceived failure to comply may result, and in some cases has resulted, in inquiries and other proceedings or actions against us by government agencies or others, as well as negative publicity and damage to our reputation and brand, each of which could cause us to lose users and customers, which could have an adverse effect on our business.

 

Any systems failure or compromise of our security that results in the unauthorized access to or release of our users’ or customers’ data could significantly limit the adoption of our products and services, as well as harm our reputation and brand and, therefore, our business. We strictly limit third-party developers’ access to user privacy and user data, and we expend significant resources on technology and product development to protect against leakage of user information and other security breaches. Nonetheless, given its great commercial value, our user data may still be misused by third-parties, which could expose us to legal and regulatory risks and seriously harm our business.

 

The PRC regulatory and enforcement regime with regard to data security and data protection is evolving. On November 7, 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the Cyber Security Law, which came into effect on June 1, 2017. The Cyber Security Law sets high requirements for the operational security of facilities deemed to be part of the PRC’s “critical information infrastructure.” In the European Union, or EU, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which came into effect on May 25, 2018, present increased challenges and risks in relation to policies and procedures relating to data collection, storage, transfer, disclosure, protection and privacy, and will impose significant penalties for non-compliance, including for example, penalties calculated as a percentage of global revenue under the GDPR. Since the GDPR only came into effect recently, the potential risks associated with non-compliance therewith are uniquely difficult to predict. Other jurisdictions may have similar prohibitions.

 

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New laws or regulations concerning data protection, or the interpretation and application of existing consumer and data protection laws or regulations, which is often uncertain and in flux, may be inconsistent with our practices. If so, in addition to the possibility of fines, this could result in an order requiring that we change our practices, which could have an adverse effect on our business and operating results. Complying with new laws and regulations could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business.

 

A severe or prolonged downturn in the Chinese or global economy could materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

The global macroeconomic environment is facing challenges, including the end of quantitative easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the economic slowdown in the Eurozone since 2014 and uncertainties over the impact of Brexit. The growth of the PRC economy has slowed down since 2012 compared to the previous decade and the trend may continue. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China. There have been concerns over unrest and terrorist threats in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. There have also been concerns about the relationship between China and other countries, including surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially lead to foreign investors closing down their business or withdrawing their investment in China. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China. Any prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Recent changes in U.S. trade policies, including new tariffs on imports from China generally, and reactions by a number of markets including China in response to these U.S. actions, may have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and they may significantly reduce global trade and, in particular, trade between China and the United States. Our users and customers may reduce or delay their spending or borrowing activities, while we may have difficulty expanding our customer base fast enough, or at all, to offset the impact of decreased spending by our existing customers.

 

We and certain of our directors and officers have been named as defendants in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operation, cash flows and reputation.

 

We will have to defend against a putative shareholder class action lawsuit described in. See “Item 8. Financial Information—A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings,” including any appeals of such lawsuit should our initial defense be unsuccessful. We are currently unable to estimate the possible outcome or loss or possible range of loss, if any, associated with the resolution of this lawsuit. In the event that our initial defense of this lawsuit is unsuccessful, there can be no assurance that we will prevail in any appeal. Any adverse outcome of this case, including any plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment in this lawsuit, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operation, cash flows and reputation. In addition, there can be no assurance that our insurance carriers will cover all or part of the defense costs, or any liabilities that may arise from this matter. The litigation process may utilize a significant portion of our resources and divert management’s attention from the day-to-day operations of our company, all of which could harm our business. We also may be subject to claims for indemnification related to this matter, and we cannot predict the impact that indemnification claims may have on our business or financial results.

 

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We face risks related to natural disasters and health epidemics.

 

Our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters, health epidemics or other public safety concerns affecting the PRC, and particularly Beijing. Natural disasters may give rise to server interruptions, breakdowns, system failures, technology platform failures or internet failures, which could cause the loss or corruption of data or malfunctions of software or hardware as well as adversely affect our ability to operate our platform and provide services and solutions. Our business could also be adversely affected if our employees are affected by health epidemics. In addition, our results of operations could be adversely affected to the extent that any health epidemic harms the Chinese economy in general. Our headquarters are located in Beijing, where most of our management and employees currently reside. Most of our system hardware and back-up systems are hosted in facilities located in Beijing. Consequently, if any natural disasters, health epidemics or other public safety concerns were to affect Beijing, our operation may experience material disruptions, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.

 

Foreign ownership of internet-based businesses, such as distribution of online information, is subject to restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations. For example, foreign investors are not allowed to own more than 50% of the equity interests in a value-added telecommunication service provider which is engaged in internet information provision business like us and any such foreign investor must have experience in providing value-added telecommunications services overseas and maintain a good track record in accordance with the Guidance Catalogue of Industries for Foreign Investment promulgated in 2007, as most recently amended in July 2018, and other applicable laws and regulations.

 

We are a Cayman Islands exempted company and our PRC subsidiaries are considered foreign-invested enterprises. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct operations in China through Beijing Rongdiandian Information Technology Co., Ltd., or RDD, and other affiliated PRC entities. We refer to these affiliated PRC entities as our variable interest entities, or the VIEs, and we have entered into a series of contractual arrangements with the VIEs and their shareholders, which enable us to (i) exercise effective control over the VIEs, (ii) receive majority of the economic benefits and bear the obligation to absorb substantially all of the losses of the VIEs, and (iii) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in the VIEs when and to the extent permitted by PRC laws. Because of these contractual arrangements, we are deemed the primary beneficiary of the VIEs and hence consolidate their financial results under U.S. GAAP. For a detailed description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.”

 

In the opinion of Fangda Partners, our PRC legal counsel, (i) the ownership structure of our wholly foreign owned subsidiaries and the VIEs in China does not result in any violation of PRC laws and regulations currently in effect; and (ii) the contractual arrangements between our wholly foreign owned subsidiaries, the VIEs and the shareholders of the VIEs that are governed by PRC law are valid, binding and enforceable, and do not result in any violation of PRC laws or regulations currently in effect. However, we have been advised by our PRC legal counsel that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws, regulations and rules, and there can be no assurance that the PRC regulatory authorities will take a view that is consistent with the opinion of our PRC legal counsel.

 

On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress approved the Foreign Investment Law, or the FIL, which will take effect on January 1, 2020. The FIL does not explicitly classify whether variable interest entities that are controlled through contractual arrangements would be deemed as foreign invested enterprises if they are ultimately “controlled” by foreign investors Since the FIL is relatively new, uncertainties still exist in relation to its interpretation and implementation, and it is still unclear how the FIL would affect our variable interest entity structure and business operation. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China— Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the newly adopted PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.”

 

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If the ownership structure, contractual arrangements and businesses of our PRC subsidiaries or the VIEs are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, or our PRC subsidiaries or the VIEs fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals, the relevant PRC regulatory authorities would have broad discretion to take action in dealing with such violations or failures, including:

 

·                  revoking the business licenses and/or operating licenses of such entities;

 

·                  shutting down our servers or blocking our website, or discontinuing or placing restrictions or onerous conditions on our operation through any transactions between our PRC subsidiaries and the VIEs;

 

·                  imposing fines, confiscating the income from our PRC subsidiaries or the VIEs, or imposing other requirements with which we or our variable interest entities may not be able to comply;

 

·                  requiring us to restructure our ownership structure or operations, including terminating the contractual arrangements with the VIEs and deregistering the equity pledge of the VIEs, which in turn would affect our ability to consolidate, derive economic interests from, or exert effective control over the VIEs; or

 

·                  restricting or prohibiting our use of the proceeds of our IPO to finance our business and operations in China, and taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could be harmful to our business.

 

Any of these actions could cause significant disruption to our business operations and severely damage our reputation, which would in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If any of these occurrences results in our inability to direct the activities of the VIEs that most significantly impact their economic performance, and/or our failure to receive the economic benefits from the VIEs, we may not be able to consolidate the entities in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

 

We rely on contractual arrangements with the VIEs and their shareholders to exercise control over a significant part of our business, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.

 

We have relied and expect to continue to rely on the contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities to conduct a significant part of our operations in China. We rely on contractual arrangements with the VIEs and their shareholders to conduct a significant part of our operations in China. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” The shareholders of the VIEs may not act in the best interests of our company or may not perform their obligations under these contracts. If we had direct ownership of the VIEs, we would be able to exercise our rights as a shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of the VIEs, which in turn could implement changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management and operational level. However, under the contractual arrangements, we would rely on legal remedies under PRC law for breach of contract in the event that the VIEs and their shareholders did not perform their obligations under the contracts. These legal remedies may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over the VIEs.

 

If the VIEs or their shareholders fail to perform their obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. All the agreements under our contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in China. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC law and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. The legal system in the PRC is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Meanwhile, there are very few precedents and little formal guidance as to how contractual arrangements in the context of a variable interest entity should be interpreted or enforced under PRC law. There remain significant uncertainties regarding the ultimate outcome of such arbitration should legal action become necessary. In addition, under PRC law, rulings by arbitrators are final, parties cannot appeal the arbitration results in courts, and if the losing parties fail to carry out the arbitration awards within a prescribed time limit, the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would require additional expenses and delay. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant delay or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our variable interest entities, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of Chinese laws and regulations could limit the legal protections available to you and us.”

 

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The shareholders of the VIEs may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

RDD is 40% owned by the appointed family member of our chief executive officer, Mr. Daqing (David) Ye, 40% owned by Mr. Jiayan Lu, who is our chief operating officer, and 20% owned by Mr. Caofeng Liu, who is our chief technology officer. Owners of the other VIEs include Jianpu’s employees and one affiliate to Jianpu’s founder. They may have potential conflicts of interest with us. These shareholders may breach, or cause the VIEs to breach, or refuse to renew, the existing contractual arrangements we have with them and the VIEs, which would have a material and adverse effect on our ability to effectively control our variable interest entities and receive economic benefits from it. For example, the shareholders may be able to cause our agreements with the VIEs to be performed in a manner adverse to us by, among other things, failing to remit payments due under the contractual arrangements to us on a timely basis. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these shareholders will act in the best interests of our company or such conflicts will be resolved in our favor.

 

Currently, we do not have any arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest between these shareholders and our company. For certain management members, we rely on them to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands and China, which provide that directors owe a fiduciary duty to the company that requires them to act in good faith and in what they believe to be the best interests of the company and not to use their position for personal gains. There is currently no specific and clear guidance under PRC laws that address any conflict between PRC laws and laws of Cayman Islands in respect of any conflict relating to corporate governance. If we cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between us and the shareholders of the VIEs, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.

 

Our contractual arrangements with the VIEs may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and they may determine that we or our variable interest entities owe additional taxes, which could negatively affect our financial condition and the value of your investment.

 

Under applicable PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities within ten years after the taxable year when the transactions are conducted. The PRC enterprise income tax law requires every enterprise in China to submit its annual enterprise income tax return together with a report on transactions with its related parties to the relevant tax authorities. The tax authorities may impose reasonable adjustments on taxation if they have identified any related party transactions that are inconsistent with arm’s length principles. We may face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements between our wholly foreign owned subsidiaries, our variable interest entities, and shareholders of the VIEs were not entered into on an arm’s length basis in such a way as to result in an impermissible reduction in taxes under applicable PRC laws, rules and regulations, and adjust the income of the VIEs in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment.

 

A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction of expense deductions recorded by the VIEs for PRC tax purposes, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities without reducing the tax expenses of relevant PRC subsidiaries. In addition, if our PRC subsidiaries request the shareholders of the relevant VIEs to transfer their equity interest in such VIEs at nominal or no value pursuant to the contractual agreements, such transfer could be viewed as a gift and subject the relevant PRC subsidiaries to PRC income tax. Furthermore, the PRC tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties on the VIEs for the adjusted but unpaid taxes according to the applicable regulations. Our financial position could be materially and adversely affected if our variable interest entities’ tax liabilities increase or if it is required to pay late payment fees and other penalties.

 

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We may lose the ability to use and benefit from assets held by the VIEs that are material to the operation of our business if the entity goes bankrupt or becomes subject to a dissolution or liquidation proceeding.

 

As part of our contractual arrangements with the VIEs, these entities hold certain assets that are material to the operation of our business. If any of the VIEs go bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business activities, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Under the contractual arrangements, the VIEs may not, in any manner, sell, transfer, mortgage or dispose of its assets or legal or beneficial interests in the business without our prior consent. If the VIEs undergo a voluntary or involuntary liquidation proceeding, unrelated third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of these assets, thereby hindering our ability to operate our business, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material and adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

 

Substantially all of our operations are conducted in China. Accordingly, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects are influenced by economic, political and legal developments in China. China’s economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including with respect to the degree of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. The PRC government exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through strategically allocating resources, controlling the payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, that growth has been uneven across different regions and between industry sectors and may not continue, as evidenced by the slowing of the growth of the Chinese economy since 2012 and, in particular, by the slowdown in 2018. In addition, Chinese economy may be adversely affected by the current trade disputes between China and the United States. Any adverse changes in economic conditions in China, in the policies of the Chinese government or in the laws and regulations in China could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China. Such developments could adversely affect our business and operating results, lead to reduction in demand for our services and solutions and adversely affect our competitive position.

 

Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.

 

The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes. Unlike the common law system, prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value.

 

In 1979, the PRC government began to promulgate a comprehensive system of laws and regulations governing economic matters in general. The overall effect of legislation over the past decades has significantly enhanced the protections afforded to various forms of foreign investments in China. However, China has not developed a fully integrated legal system, and recently enacted laws and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in China. In particular, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations involve uncertainties. Since PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection available to you and us.

 

Furthermore, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis or at all, and which may have a retroactive effect. As a result, we may not be aware of our violation of any of these policies and rules until sometime after the violation. Such uncertainties, including uncertainty over the scope and effect of our contractual, property (including intellectual property) and procedural rights, and any failure to respond to changes in the regulatory environment in China could materially and adversely affect our business and impede our ability to continue our operations.

 

Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the newly adopted PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.

 

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The variable interest entity structure has been adopted by many PRC-based companies, including us, to obtain necessary licenses and permits in the industries that are currently subject to foreign investment restrictions in China. See “—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” The Ministry of Commerce published a discussion draft of the proposed Foreign Investment Law in January 2015, or the 2015 Draft FIL, according to which, variable interest entities that are controlled via contractual arrangements would also be deemed as foreign-invested entities, if they are ultimately “controlled” by foreign investors. In March 2019, the PRC National People’s Congress promulgated the FIL, which will become effective from January 1, 2020 and will replace the major existing laws and regulations governing foreign investment in the PRC. Pursuant to the FIL, “foreign investments” refer to investment activities conducted by foreign investors directly or “indirectly” in the PRC, which include any of the following circumstances: (i) foreign investors setting up foreign-invested enterprises in the PRC solely or jointly with other investors, (ii) foreign investors obtaining shares, equity interests, property portions or other similar rights and interests of enterprises within the PRC, (iii) foreign investors investing in new projects in the PRC solely or jointly with other investors, and (iv) investment in other methods as specified in laws, administrative regulations, or as stipulated by the State Council. The FIL does not introduce the concept of “control” in determining whether a company would be considered as a foreign-invested enterprise, nor does it explicitly provide whether the variable interest entity structure would be deemed as a method of foreign investment. However, it has a catch-all provision under definition of “foreign investments” that includes investments made by foreign investors in China in other methods as specified in laws, administrative regulations, or as stipulated by the State Council, and as the FIL is newly adopted and relevant government authorities may promulgate more laws, regulations or rules on the interpretation and implementation of the FIL, the possibility can’t be ruled out that the concept of “control” as stated in the 2015 Draft FIL may be embodied in, or the variable interest entity structure adopted by us may be deemed as a method of foreign investment by, any of such future laws, regulations and rules. If our consolidated VIEs were deemed as a foreign-invested enterprise under any of such future laws, regulations and rules, and any of the businesses that we operate would be in any “negative list” for foreign investment and therefore be subject to any foreign investment restrictions or prohibitions, further actions required to be taken by us under such laws, regulations and rules may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition. Furthermore, if future laws, administrative regulations or provisions mandate further actions to be taken by companies with respect to existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions in a timely manner, or at all. Failure to take timely and appropriate measures to cope with any of these or similar regulatory compliance challenges could materially and adversely affect our current corporate structure and business operations.

 

We may be adversely affected by the complexity, uncertainties and changes in PRC regulation of internet-related businesses and companies and other businesses we are or will be engaged in.

 

The PRC government extensively regulates the internet industry, including foreign ownership and the licensing and permit requirements for companies in the internet industry. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulation Related to Foreign Investment Restrictions” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Related to Value-Added Telecommunication Services.” These laws and regulations are relatively new and evolving, and their interpretation and enforcement involve significant uncertainties. As a result, in certain circumstances it may be difficult to determine what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws and regulations.

 

Due to the restriction of foreign investment in businesses providing value-added telecommunication services in China, including internet information provision services, we rely on the contractual arrangements with RDD, one of our variable interest entities, to provide such services. RDD has obtained an ICP license. Any challenge to the validity of these arrangements may significantly disrupt our business, subject us to sanctions, compromise enforceability of our contractual arrangements, or have other harmful effects on us. It is uncertain if our variable interest entities will be required to obtain a separate operating license in addition to the valued-added telecommunications business operating licenses for internet content provision services.

 

Although we believe that we are not explicitly required to obtain a separate license for our mobile applications, there can be no assurance that we will not be required to apply for such license in the future.

 

The interpretation and application of existing PRC laws, regulations and policies and possible new laws, regulations or policies relating to the internet industry have created substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of existing and future foreign investments in, and the businesses and activities of, internet businesses in China, including our business. We cannot assure you that we have obtained all the permits or licenses required for conducting our business in China or will be able to maintain our existing licenses or obtain new ones.

 

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As a platform, we have been continuously improving and innovating products, services and solutions to better empower our users and enable financial service providers. For instance, we launched our Social Media and Partner Program in the third quarter of 2018, within which we introduced a cooperation system with our users who may register as our business partners in carrying out the financial product recommendation services on our platform (see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Marketing and Brand Promotion”). Given the complexity, uncertainties and changes in PRC regulations, and that we have limited control over our users and financial service providers on our platform and may not be able to effectively monitor their activities, so we cannot assure you that our practices or the activities of our users and financial service providers will not be deemed to violate any existing or future laws, regulations or policies. If any of our practices or the activities of our users and financial service providers is deemed to violate any existing or future laws, regulations or policies, we may be ordered to cease such activities, and may be subject to other penalties as determined by the relevant government authorities, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.

 

We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our PRC subsidiaries for our cash and financing requirements, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to our shareholders and service any debt we may incur. For a detailed discussion of applicable PRC regulations governing distribution of dividends, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Holding Company Structure.” Additionally, if our PRC subsidiaries incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing their debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us. Furthermore, the PRC tax authorities may require our subsidiaries to adjust their taxable income under the contractual arrangements they currently have in place with our variable interest entities in a manner that would materially and adversely affect their ability to pay dividends and other distributions to us. See “—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—Our contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and they may determine that we or our variable interest entities owe additional taxes, which could negatively affect our financial condition and the value of your investment.”

 

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Any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our business, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business. See also “—If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.”

 

Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material and adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.

 

The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. In July 2005, the PRC government changed its decades-old policy of pegging the value of Renminbi to the U.S. dollar, and Renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation halted and the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. Since June 2010, Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar in the future. On November 30, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the regular five-year review of the basket of currencies that make up the Special Drawing Right, or the SDR, and decided that with effect from October 1, 2016, RMB is determined to be a freely usable currency and will be included in the SDR basket as a fifth currency, along with the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the RMB has depreciated significantly in the backdrop of a surging U.S. dollar and persistent capital outflows of China. This depreciation halted in 2017, and the RMB appreciated approximately 7% against the U.S. dollar during this one-year period. Since February 2018, the RMB has depreciated significantly, over 8% against the U.S. dollar. With the development of the foreign exchange market and progress towards interest rate liberalization and Renminbi internationalization, the PRC government may in the future announce further changes to the exchange rate system and we cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

 

There remains significant international pressure on the PRC government to adopt a more flexible currency policy. Any significant appreciation or depreciation of Renminbi may materially and adversely affect our revenues, earnings and financial position, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, our ADSs in U.S. dollars. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars we receive into Renminbi to pay our operating expenses, appreciation of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the RMB amount we would receive from the conversion. Conversely, a significant depreciation of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar may significantly reduce the U.S. dollar equivalent of our earnings, which in turn could adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.

 

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PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds of our offshore offerings to make loans to or make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

Under PRC laws and regulations, we are permitted to utilize the proceeds from our IPO and the concurrent private placements to fund our PRC subsidiaries by making loans to or additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, subject to applicable government registration and approval requirements. For more details, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Related to Foreign Exchange—Regulation on Foreign Currency Exchange.” These PRC laws and regulations may significantly limit our ability to use Renminbi converted from the net proceeds of our IPO and the concurrent private placements to fund the establishment of new entities in China by our PRC subsidiaries, to invest in or acquire any other PRC companies through our PRC subsidiaries, or to establish new variable interest entities in China. Moreover, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans to our PRC subsidiaries or future capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiaries. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use the proceeds we received or expect to receive from our offshore offerings and to capitalize or otherwise fund our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

Governmental control of currency conversion may limit our ability to utilize our revenues effectively and affect the value of your investment.

 

The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, such as profit distributions and trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, approval from or registration with appropriate governmental authorities is required where Renminbi is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses such as the repayment of loans denominated in foreign currencies. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Related to Foreign Exchange—Regulation on Foreign Currency Exchange.”

 

Since 2016, the PRC government has tightened its foreign exchange policies again and stepped up scrutiny of major outbound capital movement. More restrictions and a substantial vetting process have been put in place by SAFE to regulate cross-border transactions falling under the capital account. The PRC government may also restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions, at its discretion. We receive substantially all of our revenues in RMB. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currencies to satisfy our foreign currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs.

 

PRC regulations relating to offshore investment activities by PRC residents may limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us or otherwise expose us or our PRC resident beneficial owners to liability and penalties under PRC law.

 

SAFE requires PRC residents or entities to register with SAFE or its local branch in connection with their establishment or control of an offshore entity established for the purpose of overseas investment or financing. In addition, such PRC residents or entities must update their SAFE registrations when the offshore special purpose vehicle undergoes certain material events. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations Related to Foreign Exchange—Regulations on Foreign Exchange Registration of Overseas Investment by PRC Residents.”

 

If our shareholders who are PRC residents or entities do not complete their registration with the local SAFE branches, our PRC subsidiaries may be prohibited from distributing their profits and any proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to us, and we may be restricted in our ability to contribute additional capital to our PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with SAFE registration requirements could result in liability under PRC laws for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions. All of the shareholders who directly or indirectly hold shares in our Cayman Islands holding company and who are known to us as being PRC residents have completed the initial foreign exchange registrations.

 

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However, we may not be informed of the identities of all the PRC residents or entities holding direct or indirect interests in our company, nor can we compel our beneficial owners to comply with SAFE registration requirements. As a result, we cannot assure you that all of our shareholders or beneficial owners who are PRC residents or entities have complied with, and will in the future make or obtain any applicable registrations or approvals required by, SAFE regulations. Failure by such shareholders or beneficial owners to comply with SAFE regulations, or failure by us to amend the foreign exchange registrations of our PRC subsidiaries, could subject us to fines or legal sanctions, restrict our overseas or cross-border investment activities, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions or pay dividends to us or affect our ownership structure, which could adversely affect our business and prospects.

 

The M&A Rules and certain other PRC regulations establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of PRC companies by foreign investors, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in China.

 

A number of PRC laws and regulations have established procedures and requirements that could make merger and acquisition activities in China by foreign investors more time consuming and complex. In addition to the Anti-monopoly Law itself, these include the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules, adopted by six PRC regulatory agencies in 2006, and the Rules of the Ministry of Commerce on Implementation of Security Review System of Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the Security Review Rules, promulgated in 2011. These laws and regulations impose requirements in some instances that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a PRC domestic enterprise. In addition, the Anti-Monopoly Law requires that the anti-monopoly enforcement agency be notified in advance of any concentration of undertaking if certain thresholds are triggered. Moreover, the Security Review Rules specify that mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors that raise “national defense and security” concerns and mergers and acquisitions through which foreign investors may acquire de facto control over domestic enterprises that raise “national security” concerns are subject to strict review by the Ministry of Commerce, and prohibit any attempt to bypass a security review, including by structuring the transaction through a proxy or contractual control arrangement. In the future, we may grow our business by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the relevant regulations to complete such transactions could be time consuming, and any required approval processes, including approvals from the anti-monopoly enforcement agency or the Ministry of Commerce, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand our business or maintain our market share.

 

Any failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding the registration requirements for employee stock incentive plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.

 

Under SAFE regulations, PRC residents who participate in a stock incentive plan in an overseas publicly listed company are required to register with SAFE or its local branches and complete certain other procedures. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Related to Stock Incentive Plans.” We and our PRC resident directors, employees and consultants who participate in our share incentive plans are subject to these regulations. If we or any of these PRC resident directors, employees and consultants fail to comply with these regulations, we or such directors, employees and consultants may be subject to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions. We also face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional incentive plans for our directors, executive officers and employees under PRC law.

 

If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with a “de facto management body” within the PRC is considered a PRC resident enterprise. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as the body that exercises full and substantial control over and overall management of the business, productions, personnel, accounts and properties of an enterprise. In 2009, the State Administration of Taxation issued a circular, known as Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a PRC-controlled enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Although Circular 82 only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups, the criteria set forth in the circular may reflect the State Administration of Taxation’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax resident status of all offshore enterprises. According to Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having its “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its global income only if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the primary location of the senior management team in charge of day-to-day operation is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals, and board and shareholder resolutions, are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC.

 

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We believe that none of our entities outside of China is a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes. However, the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body.” If the PRC tax authorities determine that we are a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, we will be subject to the enterprise income tax on our global income at the rate of 25% and we will be required to comply with PRC enterprise income tax reporting obligations. In addition, gains realized on the sale or other disposition of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares may be subject to PRC tax, at a rate of 10% in the case of non-PRC enterprises or 20% in the case of non-PRC individuals (in each case, subject to the provisions of any applicable tax treaty), if such gains are deemed to be from PRC sources. It is unclear whether non-PRC shareholders of our company would be able to claim the benefits of any tax treaties between their country of tax residence and the PRC in the event that we are treated as a PRC resident enterprise. Any such tax may reduce the returns on your investment in the ADSs.

 

We may not be able to obtain certain benefits under the relevant tax arrangement for dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to us through our Hong Kong subsidiaries.

 

We are a holding company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands and as such rely on dividends and other distributions on equity from our PRC subsidiaries to satisfy part of our liquidity requirements. Pursuant to the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, a withholding tax rate of 10% currently applies to dividends paid by a PRC “resident enterprise” to a foreign enterprise investor, unless any such foreign investor’s jurisdiction of incorporation has a tax treaty with China that provides for preferential tax treatment. Pursuant to the Arrangement between the Mainland China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Tax Evasion on Income, such withholding tax rate may be lowered to 5% if a Hong Kong resident enterprise is the beneficial owner of the dividends and owns no less than 25% of a PRC enterprise. The State Administration of Taxation promulgated SAT Circular 9 in February 2018, which became effective from April 2018 and stipulates that in determining whether a non-resident enterprise has the status as a beneficial owner, comprehensive analysis shall be conducted based on the factors listed therein and the actual circumstances of the specific case shall be taken into consideration. Specifically, it expressly excludes an agent or a designated payee from being considered as a “beneficial owner”. Furthermore, the Administrative Measures for Non-Resident Enterprises to Enjoy Treatments under Tax Treaties, which became effective in August 2015, require non-resident enterprises to determine whether they are qualified to enjoy the preferential tax treatment under the tax treaties and file relevant report and materials with the tax authorities. There are also other conditions for enjoying the reduced withholding tax rate according to other relevant tax rules and regulations. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus—A. Operating Results—Taxation—China.” As of December 31, 2016, 2017 no withholding tax was recorded on the retained earnings of our or RONG360 Inc.’s PRC subsidiaries (as applicable) as they did not have any retained earnings for any of the periods. We do not have any present plan to have our subsidiaries to distribute their earnings overseas, and we intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings in China to operate and expand our business within the PRC. Accordingly, we did not record any withholding tax on the retained earnings of our subsidiaries in the PRC as of December 31, 2018. We cannot assure you that our determination regarding our qualification to enjoy the preferential tax treatment will not be challenged by the relevant tax authority or we will be able to complete the necessary filings with the relevant tax authority and enjoy the preferential withholding tax rate of 5% under the arrangement with respect to any dividends to be paid by our PRC subsidiaries to our Hong Kong subsidiaries.

 

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We and our shareholders face uncertainty with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises, assets attributed to a PRC establishment of a non-PRC company or immovable properties located in China owned by non-PRC companies.

 

In February 2015, the State Administration of Taxation issued the Bulletin on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or SAT Bulletin 7. In October, 2017, SAT issued the Bulletin of SAT on Issues Concerning the Withholding of Non-resident Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or the SAT Bulletin 37, which became effective on December 1, 2017 and repealed certain rules stipulated SAT Bulletin 7. The Bulletin 37 further details and clarifies the tax withholding methods in respect of income of non-resident enterprises. Pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations, an “indirect transfer” of assets, including equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise, by non-PRC resident enterprises may be re-characterized and treated as a direct transfer of PRC taxable assets, if the arrangement does not have a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of avoiding payment of PRC enterprise income tax. As a result, gains derived from the indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax. According to SAT Bulletin 7, “PRC taxable assets” include assets attributed to an establishment in China, immovable properties located in China, and equity investments in PRC resident enterprises. Gains derived from the transfer of PRC taxable assets by a direct holder that is a non-PRC resident enterprise is subject to PRC enterprise income taxes. When determining whether an arrangement has a “reasonable commercial purpose”, the following factors are considered: whether the value of the equity interest of the relevant offshore enterprise is mainly derived from PRC taxable assets; whether the assets of the relevant offshore enterprise mainly consist of direct or indirect investment in China; whether the income of the relevant offshore enterprise is mainly generated from China; whether the offshore enterprise and its subsidiaries directly or indirectly holding PRC taxable assets have real commercial nature as evidenced by actual function and risk exposure; for how long the existing business model and organizational structure of the relevant offshore enterprise has existed; the replicability of the arrangement by direct transfer of PRC taxable assets; and the tax situation of such indirect transfer and applicable tax treaties or similar arrangements. Gains derived from an indirect offshore transfer of assets of a PRC establishment or place of business are to be included in the enterprise income tax filing of the PRC establishment or place of business, and are subject to a PRC enterprise income tax rate of 25%. In case of a transfer of immovable properties located in China or of equity investments in a PRC resident enterprise, which is not related to a PRC establishment or place of business of a non-resident enterprise, a PRC enterprise income tax rate of 10% applies, subject to available preferential tax treatment under applicable tax treaties or similar arrangements. The party who is obligated to pay for the transfer has the withholding obligation with respect to the transfer. Where the payor fails to withhold sufficient tax, the transferor is required to declare and pay such tax to the tax authority by itself. Where a transferor fails to declare and pay such tax, the tax authority may require it to pay during a specified period, and the transferor shall declare and pay such tax during the period determined by the tax authority; and where the transferor declares and pays tax on its own initiative before the specified period expires, it shall be deemed to have paid such tax as scheduled. SAT Bulletin 7 does not apply to sales of shares by investors through a public stock exchange if the shares were acquired by the investors through a public stock exchange.

 

We face uncertainties as to the application of SAT Bulletin 37 and SAT Bulletin 7, including reporting and other obligations with respect to certain past and future transactions where PRC taxable assets are involved, such as offshore restructuring, sale of the shares in our offshore subsidiaries or investments. We may be subject to filing obligations or taxed as the transferor, or subject to withholding obligations as the transferee, in the transactions. For transfer of our shares by investors that are non-PRC resident enterprises, our PRC subsidiaries may be requested to assist in filings under SAT Bulletin 7. We may be required to allocate valuable resources to comply with SAT Bulletin 37 and SAT Bulletin 7, to request relevant transferors from whom we purchase taxable assets to comply with these rules, or to establish that we should not be taxed under these rules, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our auditor, like other independent registered public accounting firms operating in China, is not permitted to be subject to inspection by Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and consequently investors may be deprived of the benefits of such inspection.

 

Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issued the audit reports included elsewhere in this annual report, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), or PCAOB, is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance applicable professional standards. Our auditor is located in and organized under the laws of, the PRC, which is a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities. In May 2013, PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by PCAOB, the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States and the PRC, respectively. PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or CSRC, and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges.

 

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On December 7, 2018, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a joint statement highlighting continued challenges faced by the U.S. regulators in their oversight of financial statement audits of U.S.-listed companies with significant operations in China. However, it remains unclear what further actions, if any, the SEC and PCAOB will take to address the problem. This lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from fully evaluating audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and investors in our ordinary shares are deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firm’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors in our stock to lose confidence in our audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.

 

Proceedings instituted by the SEC against Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

 

Starting in 2011 the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under Chinese law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.

 

In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm. A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC. On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioner had taken place, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepted that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms failed to meet specified criteria, the SEC retained authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure.

 

Under the terms of the settlement, the underlying proceeding against the four China-based accounting firms was deemed dismissed with prejudice four years after entry of the settlement. The four-year mark occurred on February 6, 2019. While we cannot predict if the SEC will further challenge the four China-based accounting firms’ compliance with U.S. law in connection with U.S. regulatory requests for audit work papers or if the results of such a challenge would result in the SEC imposing penalties such as suspensions. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

 

In the event the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” become subject to additional legal challenges by the SEC or PCAOB, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, U.S.-listed companies and the market price of our common stock may be adversely affected.

 

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If our independent registered public accounting firm was denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of the ADSs from the New York Stock Exchange or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the United States.

 

Risks Related to Our ADSs

 

The trading price of our ADSs is likely to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.

 

Since our ADSs became listed on NYSE on November 16, 2017, the trading price of our ADSs has ranged from US$3.49 to US$9.49 per ADS in 2018. The trading price of our ADSs is likely to be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in the United States. A number of Chinese companies have listed or are in the process of listing their securities on U.S. stock markets. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility, including price declines in connection with their IPOs. The trading performances of these Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States in general and consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance.

 

In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for our ADSs may be highly volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:

 

·                  variations in our revenues, earnings and cash flow;

 

·                  announcements of new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or joint ventures by us or our competitors;

 

·                  announcements of new services and expansions by us or our competitors;

 

·                  announcements of new policies, rules or regulations relating to the internet or the financial services industry in China;

 

·                  changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;

 

·                  detrimental adverse publicity about us, our services, our competitors or our industry;

 

·                  additions or departures of key personnel;

 

·                  release of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding equity securities or sales of additional equity securities; and

 

·                  potential litigation or regulatory investigations.

 

Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which our ADSs will trade.

 

In the past, shareholders of public companies have often brought securities class action suits against those companies following periods of instability in the market price of their securities. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit, which could harm our results of operations. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Our dual-class share structure with different voting rights will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

Immediately prior to the completion of our IPO, we adopted a dual-class share structure such that our ordinary shares consist of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares. In respect of matters requiring the votes of shareholders, holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to ten votes per share based on our dual-class share structure. We sold Class A ordinary shares represented by our ADSs in our IPO. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any sale, transfer, assignment or disposition of any Class B ordinary share by a founder to any person who is not a founder affiliate of such founder, or upon a change of ultimate beneficial ownership of any Class B ordinary share from a founder to any person who is not a founder affiliate of such founder, such Class B ordinary share shall be automatically and immediately converted into one Class A ordinary share. In addition, if shares beneficially owned by the founders collectively account for less than five percent (5%) of the issued shares in the capital of the Company, then each Class B ordinary share shall automatically be re-designated into one Class A ordinary share and no Class B ordinary shares shall be issued by the Company thereafter. When a founder ceases to be a director or an executive officer of the Company, each Class B ordinary share beneficially owned by such founder shall automatically be re-designated into one Class A ordinary share.

 

On July 31, 2018, RONG360 completed the share distribution of our ordinary shares held by it to the existing shareholders of RONG360 in proportion to RONG360’s shareholding structure, and thus completed the Restructuring to strengthen our positioning as an independent open platform. As of March 31, 2019, Mr. Daqing (David) Ye, Mr. Jiayan Lu, Mr. Caofeng Liu and Mr. Chenchao Zhuang hold Class B ordinary shares and beneficially own approximately 77.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company. As a result of the dual-class share structure and the concentration of ownership, holders of our Class B ordinary shares will have considerable influence over matters such as decisions regarding mergers, consolidations and the sale of all or substantially all of our assets, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. They may take actions that are not in the best interest of us or our other shareholders. We may incur share-based compensation expenses as a result of adopting this dual-class share structure. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the effect of depriving our other shareholders of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of our ADSs. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that holders of Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial. In addition, we may incur share-based compensation expenses as a result of adopting this dual-class share structure.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for our ADSs will be influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the market price or trading volume for our ADSs to decline.

 

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.

 

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in our ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

 

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Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in our ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in our ADSs.

 

There can be no assurance that we will not be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares.

 

A non-U.S. corporation will be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for any taxable year if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income; or (2) at least 50% of the value of its assets (based on an average of the quarterly values of the assets) during such year is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income. Based on our current and expected income and assets, we do not believe we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2018. Moreover, based upon projections as to the value of our assets, we do not presently expect to be a PFIC for the current taxable year or the foreseeable future. However, no assurance can be given in this regard because the determination of whether we are or will become a PFIC is a fact-intensive inquiry made on an annual basis that depends, in part, upon the composition of our income and assets. Fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years because the value of our assets for the purpose of the second part of the test described above may be determined by reference to the market price of our ADSs. The composition of our income and assets may also be affected by how, and how quickly, we use our liquid assets.

 

If we were to be or become a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) holds our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could apply to such U.S. Holder. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.”

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. Our proposed dual-class voting structure gives disproportionate voting power to the Class B ordinary shares. In addition, our board of directors will have the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, in the form of ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.

 

You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.

 

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands, as amended, and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.

 

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Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records (other than the memorandum and articles of associations) or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

 

Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, differ significantly from requirements for companies incorporated in other jurisdictions such as the United States. If we choose to follow home country practice, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

 

As a result of all of the above, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.

 

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

 

We are a Cayman Islands exempted company and all of our assets are located outside of the United States. Substantially all of our current operations are conducted in China. In addition, most of our current directors and officers are nationals and residents of countries other than the United States. All or a substantial portion of the assets of these persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against us, our assets, our directors and officers or their assets.

 

We have incurred increased costs as a result of being a public company, and the costs may continue to increase in the future.

 

As a public company, we have incurred significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and the NYSE, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. These rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs and some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, in comparison with a private company, we need an increased number of independent directors and have to adopt policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. In addition, we incur additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. We expect to continue to incur significant expenses and devote substantial management effort toward ensuring compliance with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the other rules and regulations of the SEC and the NYSE.

 

We are named as a defendant in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit in the United States, and we may be involved in more class action lawsuits in the future. Such lawsuits could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations, which could harm our results of operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the lawsuits. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to United States domestic public companies.

 

Because we are a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

·                  the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K with the SEC;

 

·                  the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

·                  the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

·                  the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

 

We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a quarterly basis through press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the NYSE. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely than that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

 

The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to vote your Class A ordinary shares.

 

As a holder of our ADSs, you will only be able to exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you must vote by giving voting instructions to the depositary. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying shares unless you withdraw the shares. Under our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is 14 days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to withdraw the shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your shares. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may have no legal remedy if the shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested.

 

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The depositary for our ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, except in limited circumstances, which could adversely affect your interests.

 

Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not vote, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings unless:

 

·                  we have failed to timely provide the depositary with notice of meeting and related voting materials;

 

·                  we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;

 

·                  we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;

 

·                  a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have a material adverse impact on shareholders; or

 

·                  the voting at the meeting is to be made on a show of hands.

 

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, you cannot prevent our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted, except under the circumstances described above. This may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

 

You may not receive dividends or other distributions on our ordinary shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.

 

The depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on ordinary shares or other deposited securities underlying our ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Class A ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of our ADSs.

 

You may experience dilution of your holdings due to inability to participate in rights offerings.

 

We may, from time to time, distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire securities. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not distribute rights to holders of ADSs unless the distribution and sale of rights and the securities to which these rights relate are either exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs or are registered under the provisions of the Securities Act. The depositary may, but is not required to, attempt to sell these undistributed rights to third parties, and may allow the rights to lapse. We may be unable to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act, and we are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to these rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to have a registration statement declared effective. Accordingly, holders of ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution of their holdings as a result.

 

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

 

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of our ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

 

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ITEM 4.                                                INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A.                                    History and Development of the Company

 

We commenced our operations in 2011, when Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. was established in preparation for the launch of our platform. Mr. Daqing (David) Ye, the chairman of our board of directors and our chief executive officer, Mr. Jiayan Lu, our chief operating officer, Mr. Caofeng Liu, our chief technology officer, and Mr. Chenchao Zhuang, are our co-founders.

 

RONG360 Inc. was established in 2012 as the offshore holding company for this business. RONG360 Inc. established RONG360 (Hong Kong) Limited in 2012 as its intermediary holding company. RONG360 (Hong Kong) Limited subsequently established two wholly owned subsidiaries in China in 2012, Beijing Ronglian Shiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. and Tianjin Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd.

 

RONG360 Inc. obtained control and became the primary beneficiary of Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. in 2012 by entering into a series of contractual arrangements with it and its shareholders through Beijing Ronglian Shiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. Due to the PRC legal restrictions on foreign ownership of internet-based businesses, RONG360 has relied on these contractual arrangements to conduct a significant part of its operations in China.

 

We began operating our platform by introducing loan recommendation services in the first quarter of 2012. We subsequently introduced credit card recommendation services in the third quarter of 2013 and wealth management information services in the second quarter of 2014. We introduced our big data risk management solutions in the second quarter of 2015 and our Gold Cloud system in the first quarter of 2016.

 

In addition to our platform business, RONG360 started operating a technology-enabled online lending business in 2015, which offers its own consumer credit products to borrowers by performing credit assessment and credit decisioning of these borrowers and facilitating funding from third-party financial service providers.

 

On June 1, 2017, RONG360 Inc. established a wholly owned subsidiary, Jianpu Technology Inc., in the Cayman Islands. On June 19, 2017, Jianpu Technology Inc. established a wholly owned subsidiary, Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited, in Hong Kong. RDD was established on March 3, 2017 as a wholly owned PRC subsidiary of Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. and Beijing Ronglian Shiji Information Technology Co., Ltd., and RONG360 (Hong Kong) Limited established Beijing Rongqiniu Information Technology Co., Ltd., or RQN, on August 21, 2017, as a sino-foreign joint venture under PRC law. Immediately after RQN was established, RQN entered into a series of variable interest entity arrangements with RDD and its then sole shareholder, Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd.

 

Pursuant to a series of agreements entered into in connection with the Restructuring, all the operating assets and liabilities relating to the operation of the platform business were transferred to the new group. Specifically, Beijing Ronglian Shiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. entered into agreements to transfer its related assets and liabilities to RQN, and Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. entered into agreements to transfer its related assets and liabilities to RDD. RONG360 Inc. has provided RMB150 million of initial working capital to us in the form of a capital contribution.

 

All equity interests in RQN held by Beijing Ronglian Shiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. and RONG360 (Hong Kong) Limited were transferred to Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited. As a result, RQN is wholly owned by Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited. Beijing Rongshiji Information Technology Co., Ltd. transferred its equity interests in RDD to three individual shareholders.

 

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After the foregoing, Jianpu Technology Inc. is our holding company in the Cayman Islands. A wholly owned subsidiary of Jianpu Technology Inc., Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited, is our intermediary holding company in Hong Kong. Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited has one wholly owned subsidiary in China, RQN.

 

On November 16, 2017, our ADSs commenced trading on the NYSE under the symbol “JT.” We raised approximately US$204.9 million (approximately equivalent to RMB1,358.0 million) in net proceeds from the issuance of new shares from the IPO and concurrent private placements after deducting underwriting commissions and the offering expenses payable by us.

 

On July 31, 2018, RONG360 completed the share distribution of our ordinary shares held by it to the existing shareholders of RONG360 in proportion to RONG360’s shareholding structure, and thus completed the Restructuring to strengthen our positioning as an independent open platform.

 

In 2018, we have setup and acquired several subsidiaries and variable interest entities to support our buisness growth. For more details, see “Item 4. Information on the Company — C. Organizational Structure.”

 

Our principal executive offices are located at 21/F Internet Finance Center, Danling Street, Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +86-10-8302-3688. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at the offices of Sertus Incorporations (Cayman) Limited, Sertus Chambers, Governors Square, Suite #5-204, 23 Lime Tree Bay Avenue, P.O. Box 2547, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Law Debenture Corporate Services Inc., located at 801 2nd Avenue, Suite 403, New York, NY 10017.

 

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — B. Liquidity and Capital Resources — Capital Expenditures” for a discussion of our capital expenditures.

 

B.                                    Business Overview

 

We are the leading independent open platform for discovery and recommendation of financial products in China. By leveraging our deep data insights and proprietary technology, we provide users with personalized search results and recommendations that are tailored to each user’s particular financial needs and credit profile. We also enable financial service providers with sales and marketing solutions to reach and serve their target customers more effectively through online and mobile channels and enhance their competitiveness by providing them with tailored data, risk management and end-to-end solutions. We are committed to maintaining an independent open platform, which allows us to serve the needs of users and financial service providers impartially.

 

As an open platform, we have extensive access to data from users, financial service providers and a wide variety of third-party data partners. Our data analytics and proprietary technology enable us to analyze our massive volume of data and offer valuable services to both users and financial service providers. These capabilities drive product recommendations and credit analysis for users and support credit underwriting, fraud detection and fraud prevention for financial service providers. In particular, we offer big data risk management solutions to financial service providers, which help them improve their customer acquisition, application approval, fraud detection and prevention and other credit underwriting processes. Our proprietary technology enables us to match users with the appropriate financial products and to help financial service providers better target and serve users. We have been continually improving our advanced matching capability by leveraging big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies.

 

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Our users have convenient access to a wide variety of financial products on our platform, including consumer and other loans, credit cards, and wealth management products. We are able to identify and recommend the most suitable products for each user’s specific financial circumstances from a wide selection of products with different credit policies and geographic coverage offered by financial service providers. Users can easily compare the terms and conditions of products from different financial service providers on our platform. With Gold Cloud, our integrated solution, we offer a seamless user experience throughout the entire discovery, application approval and loan servicing process, and a significant and increasing number of applications are completed without leaving our platform. In addition to discovering financial products, users can employ the credit management tools on our platform to better understand their credit needs and manage their creditworthiness. Because consumers in China lack understanding of the increasingly complicated financial products that are available on the market, we enable them to access a wide range of information and content on our platform, including short videos, audio, online articles and offline booklets and handouts. Our content educates and provides valuable information to users to make more informed financial decisions, serves as a reference point for financial service providers and is widely reported by the media and other institutions.

 

A large and diverse group of financial service providers including traditional financial institutions and emerging technology-enabled financial service providers offers a wide variety of financial products nationwide across a broad credit spectrum on our platform. We have invested seven years in building our stable and strong network from the ground up as most traditional financial institutions in China only operate within specific geographic areas or conduct their business on a city-by-city basis, with localized business strategies and credit policies. Additional financial service providers are proactively reaching out to us to join our network. We provide sales and marketing solutions to financial service providers to help them acquire customers through online and mobile channels, and enable them with data, risk management and end-to-end solutions. Traditional financial institutions that face challenges understanding and interacting with mobile savvy customers often adopt our sales and marketing solutions when they first join our platform, and over time more and more of them have been adopting our big data risk management solutions as well. Emerging technology-enabled financial service providers often adopt our end-to-end solutions from the outset to enhance their own sales and marketing, credit and risk functions.

 

We primarily generate our revenue from fees that we charge financial service providers or their agents for recommendation services for loan products on a cost-per-action basis, where the action is generally determined by a user’s completion of a loan application, and for credit card products on a cost-per-success basis, where the success is most often defined as the issuance of a credit card and in other cases by the completion of an application or the first usage of a credit card, depending on the credit card issuer’s policy. To a lesser extent, we provide display and performance-based advertising and marketing services primarily to financial service providers of credit cards and wealth management products. We also offer financial service providers big data risk management solutions, which we introduced in the second quarter of 2015.

 

We have experienced substantial growth since the commencement of our operations, and our management team has a strong track record of executing our strategies. We introduced loan recommendation services in the first quarter of 2012, credit card recommendation services in the third quarter of 2013 and wealth management information services in the second quarter of 2014. We introduced our big data risk management solutions in the second quarter of 2015 and our Gold Cloud system in the first quarter of 2016. Our revenues increased by 39.1% from RMB1,445.8 million in 2017 to RMB2,011.8 million (US$292.6 million) in 2018 and our net loss decreased by 20.9% from RMB202.1 million to RMB159.8 million (US$23.2 million) over the same period.

 

Our Open Platform

 

Overview of our platform

 

We operate an independent open platform for the discovery and recommendation of financial products in China. Financial service providers offer a wide variety of financial products on our platform, including consumer and other loans, credit cards, and wealth management products. In addition to matching users to financial products, we provide a wide range of services and solutions to financial service providers on our platform, including sales and marketing solutions, big data risk management solutions and integrated solutions through Gold Cloud. Moreover, we provide extensive professional content on financial products, the financial industry and personal finances in many forms, including short videos, audio, online articles and offline booklets and handouts. Users generally access our platform through our mobile channel, which accounts for approximately 90% of the traffic to our platform in 2018.

 

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Financial products on our platform

 

Overview

 

Our platform had over 250,000 financial products in 2018, including over 109,600 loan products, 3,100 credit card products and 146,400 wealth management products. All of the financial products on our platform are offered and sold by financial service providers. Depending on our arrangement with the financial service provider, applications for financial products may be hosted on our platform or referred to the financial service provider’s platform.

 

Loan products

 

We launched our platform with consumer loan recommendation services in the first quarter of 2012. We added recommendation services for SME and auto loans in the second quarter of 2012 and mortgage loans in the third quarter of 2012. Users submitted a total of approximately 71.3 million loan applications through our platform in 2018. Out of all the loan products offered on our platform, around 81%, were consumer loan products. Our revenue for loan recommendation services is generally determined on a cost-per-action basis, where the action is generally determined by a user’s completion of a loan application.

 

·                  Consumer loan products provide for a wide variety of personal needs such as home decorations, weddings, travel, major appliances and other personal expenses. China’s population has been increasing its consumption, which has driven the demand for consumer loans. As a result, a broad range of financial service providers, including traditional financial institutions and emerging technology-enabled financial service providers, offer consumer loan products through our platform, addressing a wide range of financial needs across the credit spectrum. Consumer loan products can vary greatly by terms, targeted borrowers and approval conditions. Substantially all of the consumer loan products offered on our platform are unsecured. Consumer loan products on our platform generally have terms ranging from one month to three years and principal amounts of between RMB1,200 (US$174.5) and RMB1.0 million (US$145.4 thousand).

 

·                  SME loan products target small businesses that need capital to start up or expand their operations, purchase inventory or meet day-to-day expenses. SME loans have been supported by the significant growth in SMEs and an increase in financial service providers who are extending credit to this market segment. SME loan products on our platform generally have terms ranging from one month to ten years and principal amounts of between RMB20,000 (US$2.9 thousand) and RMB15.0 million (US$2.2 million).

 

·                  Mortgage loan products include both loans to help users make an initial purchase of property and, more commonly, loans secured by property that the user already owns. Our geographic coverage gives us unique insights into the mortgage lending market in China, and we provide up-to-date mortgage market information on our platform including real-time mortgage rates for 50 cities in China. Mortgage loan products on our platform generally have terms ranging from 10 months to 30 years and principal amounts of between RMB100,000 (US$14.5 thousand) and RMB1.6 million (US$0.2 million).

 

·                  Auto loan products include loans for the purchase of new and used automobiles as well as loans secured by an automobile that the user already owns. The market for auto loans has grown tremendously in China in recent years. Auto loans are especially popular among young urban professionals who have good salaries but limited savings. Auto loan products on our platform generally have terms ranging from 12  months to 3 years and principal amounts of between RMB40,000 (US$5.8 thousand) and RMB0.3 million (US$43.6 thousand).

 

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Credit card products

 

We introduced credit card recommendation services on our platform in the third quarter of 2013, and we are the largest independent online credit card application platform in China.  We have cooperated with 25 credit card issuers that accept applications online in China, including the big five state-owned banks and 11 of the 12 joint-stock banks. Since 2018, we have also broadened and diversified our credit card partners network to include more of the banks’ local branches and authorized partners. Our revenue for credit card recommendation services is generally determined on a cost-per-success basis, where the success is most often defined as the issuance of a credit card and in other cases by the completion of an application or the first usage of a credit card, depending on the issuer’s policy. Our credit card volume, which is our measure of the number of credit cards we generate revenues from, has been growing rapidly in 2018, reaching approximately 8.1 million as of December 31, 2018.

 

Credit card products vary greatly, including by issuer, payment network, credit tier, card alliance, loyalty program and specialty purpose. Due to the mass customization, it can be difficult for consumers to navigate the large selection of credit card products and identify the ones suitable for their needs. We believe that our recommendation engine empowers user to discover suitable credit card products in an efficient way. Our platform features credit card offers from major issuers and popular credit cards targeting different user groups and lifestyles, such as for hotel and business travel, shopping and airline mileage. We have engaged in co-branding with one of the top ten nationwide credit card issuers, although we do not extend credit or assume any credit risk.

 

Wealth management products

 

We introduced wealth management information services to our platform in the second quarter of 2014. Unlike with loans and credit cards, our users are investors rather than borrowers in relation to wealth management products, so we provide them with information about the terms and conditions of the products and the relative credit risk of the different financial service providers that offer the products. While users can obtain information on wealth management products on our platform, we have made a deliberate choice not to host purchases of these products on our platform, due in part to regulatory uncertainty, potential investment risk for our users and the potential impact on our brand. Users must either click through to the financial service provider’s platform or contact the financial service provider offline to place an order. We currently focus on less risky products, including certificates of deposit, money market funds and selected marketplace lenders’ investment products.

 

Our users

 

Our users are predominately individual consumers, though they also include many sole proprietors and SMEs. We have a geographically diverse user base, as the top three cities in terms of number of users accounted for only 3.0%, 2.6% and 2.3% of our total users in 2018. As of December 31, 2018, out of 116 million registered users, over 80 million have provided our platform with personal finance-related information.

 

The discovery and recommendation process for loans and credit cards

 

The first time users launch our app or access our website, our platform is able to detect their IP address and other information as to their location, and asks them to confirm the city where they reside. “City” in this context refers to administrative subdivisions that contain both urban and rural areas and in the aggregate include most of the population of China. Although emerging technology-enabled financial service providers offer the same financial products nationally, most of the traditional financial institutions still operate on a city-by-city basis and have localized credit policies, local “know your client” and credit approval processes, and local client servicing, so while we operate a national site for all of China, most products are only available after the user confirms their city. The first time that users try to view the details of any particular financial product, they will be asked to register on our platform by inputting certain basic information about themselves including their mobile phone numbers.

 

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Users can search for loan and credit card products by filtering for type of product and various terms specific to that type of product. For example, they can filter loans by principal amount, term, and their own employment status, and they can filter credit cards by a range of parameters including issuer, specialty purpose, and type of loyalty program such as points or discounts. For each user, our platform will generate a set of impartial recommendations based on the user’s profile and financial needs and the financial service provider’s product criteria, focusing on certainty, speed, convenience and terms. Our recommendation engine ranks the products using a complex algorithm that takes into account a number of factors, including the likelihood of application approval, how competitive the interest rate is and whether other users were satisfied with the financial service provider in the past. Our recommendation engine also takes into account bidding between loan sales representatives within the same financial service provider for the same financial product. Users have the flexibility to browse through as many products as they wish, but with the number of financial products available, our recommendation engine plays a critical role in matching users with the most suitable financial products.

 

Users can also obtain information on wealth management products on our platform, but we do not offer matching and recommendation services for these products for users. As our users would be purchasers of wealth management products, we focus on product safety and reliability, and only provide information on relatively conservative wealth management products on our platform.

 

The application and approval process

 

The application process depends on the type of financial product and the financial service provider selected by the user. Most of the loan applications and an increasing number of the credit card applications are completed on our platform. For the remaining loan applications and credit card applications, users are taken to the financial service provider’s application interface or platform. For wealth management products, transactions only take place after the user has been taken to the financial service provider’s platform.

 

Depending on the financial product that the user wishes to apply for, the user may be asked to provide more detailed information. There are over a hundred different items of information that may be requested, though typically no single financial product requires more than about thirty, with the exact questions varying depending on the policies of the financial service provider and the terms of the specific financial product. Users will be able to skip part or all of this step if they already provided this information previously, so our platform becomes even more convenient with repeated use.

 

Application approval time varies with the type of financial service provider and the terms of the product. Micro-loans from emerging technology-enabled financial service providers may be approved within a few minutes, whereas loans from traditional financial institutions may take one to two weeks for approval. Credit card applications often can be approved within a day, not including the time required to deliver the physical card to the successful applicant or any additional time required for activation of the card.

 

Our platform has three different models for the approval process of financial products.

 

·                  Online approval.  For most credit card applications and some loan applications, we generate click-throughs for financial service providers. We refer the user directly to their website. The application, decisioning and approval process are completed on the financial service provider’s online platform.

 

·                  Offline approval.  For loan products offered by traditional financial service providers, the user’s application typically is referred to a loan sales representative at the financial service provider, who normally contacts the user offline to explain what other steps need to be taken to complete the application. The user then relies on the loan sales representative for assistance with the rest of the application and approval process.

 

·                  End-to-end approval.  If the financial service provider has adopted our Gold Cloud solution, we support the application, approval and loan servicing process for its financial products. Users are supported by our platform throughout the lifetime of a financial product, including submitting the application and related documents, receiving notification of approval and making payments.

 

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Credit management tools

 

We provide multiple free tools to help users evaluate and manage their credit health and personal finance. We create a profile for each user with information on our platform that was provided by the user. Each user profile enables us to better recommend financial products to the user. Our credit card management tool allows users to access monthly credit card bills and manage repayment schedules on our platform. Our credit management tools also include mortgage calculator and other information inquiry tools when a user who has provided his identification information and other credentials. These tools assist users to better understand their credit needs and empower them to make informed financial decisions.

 

Content

 

Our platform provides rich and professional content to our users as a way of driving user engagement and cultivating user loyalty. We have a wealth of data about a wide range of financial products on our platform and we empower users to compare and contrast different products within and across product categories. We also provide a variety of third-party information on the subjects of personal finances, wealth management and financial planning, including wealth management columns and articles and an online wealth management forum. In addition, we have a dedicated team of more than 60 people who create additional content for our platform that is used by academic institutions, industry experts and government bodies. For example, we have issued a series of reports on the ranking of online marketplace lenders in China in collaboration with the Financial Risk Management Research Institute of Renmin University in Beijing since the first quarter of 2015, as well as monthly rankings for sub-categories such as online marketplace lenders of auto loans. We also issue monthly mortgage reports covering 66 mortgage lenders in 35 cities in China. Our content includes research reports, investment reports, mortgage reports, industry reports and rating reports for online investment platforms. We provide up-to-date mortgage market information on our platform including real-time mortgage rates for 50 cities in China. Content is available in a number of forms including short videos, audio, online articles and offline booklets and handouts, and we distribute our content through a third-party syndicated content network that includes China Business Network, Tencent’s Wechat social media platform, Youku’s video platform and Toutiao’s news and information mobile app. We believe that our content library attracts both existing and potential users to our platform and complements our other channels for attracting user traffic.

 

User service center

 

Our user service center provides live assistance to our users with a combination of automated programs and service representatives. Users can contact our user service center by telephone or through social media platforms such as Wechat and QQ. Our user service representatives help users understand financial products, follow up on financial product application status and collect user feedback on their experience with financial service providers. If a user appears interested in a product but leaves our platform without completing an application, our user service center may contact the user to collect feedback and encourage the user to submit an application and even help the user to complete the application form. We had 144 service representatives as of December 31, 2018, including some employees of companies to whom we have outsourced part of this function. We recruit user service representatives with substantial experience in supporting users on their financial product queries. Each representative is required to complete mandatory training conducted by experienced managers on financial products knowledge and communication skills. While we have outsourced some of our user services, we have provided training through our own employees to ensure quality service.

 

Financial service providers

 

We have attracted a large and diversified group of financial service providers to our platform, including the five big state-owned banks and 11 out of 12 joint-stock banks in China. In 2018, over 2,500 financial service providers offered products on our platform, including banks, credit card issuers, consumer finance companies, micro-loan companies and other licensed financial institutions, and emerging technology-enabled financial service providers and a variety of local financial service providers.

 

China’s retail financial services market is highly fragmented. Many of the financial institutions only operate within specific geographic areas or conduct their business on a city-by-city basis, with localized business strategies and credit policies. The seven years that we have invested building our network of financial service providers from the ground up have enabled us to offer a variety of financial products across a broad credit spectrum with extensive geographic reach in over 350 cities across China.

 

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Sales and marketing solutions and advertising services

 

Our platform provides efficient and effective sales and marketing solutions to financial service providers. We perform an initial screening of users based on information provided by the user or obtained with the user’s permission and check the user’s name against blacklists and databases of fraudulent activity. We check for patterns of suspicious activity or information that is not consistent or appears to be fabricated. We synthesize information from our users with data from financial service providers and third-party data partners to build up a detailed user profile for each user. This allows us to match users with financial products and allocate users to financial service providers.

 

In addition, we have offered advertising services to 60 financial service providers, mostly for providers of credit cards and wealth management products. From time to time, we purchase advertising resources from third-party search engine, social networking and other platforms for the purpose of providing advertising services. To maintain our position as an independent open platform, we strictly separate our advertising services and our content on credit research and rankings to ensure that our recommendations and research reports remain impartial and independent.

 

Big data risk management solutions

 

We introduced our big data risk management solutions in 2015. We leverage our big data technology to provide one-stop, cost-effective and diversified risk management services and solutions to financial service providers. Users provide information to us, and we have data on applications, approvals and credit performance from financial service providers. We also collaborate with a wide variety of third-party data partners, including third party credit information providers, payment companies, e-commerce platforms and mobile carriers. Through this collaboration, we have access to a wide variety of information.

 

Our big data risk management solutions range from simple to highly integrated:

 

·                  Data solutions .  With user consent, we provide user information to financial service providers to enhance their data and risk-management capabilities.

 

·                  Modeling solutions .  At the next level, we provide tailored modeling solutions that the financial service provider can use to analyze the data. The modeling solutions can be used in credit assessment and credit decisioning.

 

·                  Total solutions .  Our big data risk management solutions can be fully integrated into a financial service provider’s own systems and used as end-to-end solutions. Our goal is to provide financial service providers with an integrated solution encompassing product design, user acquisition, marketing, risk management and user services.

 

In June 2018, we completed the acquisition of 65% of equity interests in a China-based technology company specializing in optimizing data-driven risk management decisions. The target company offers a suite of products and services helping financial service providers to enhance their risk management capabilities by aggregating and analyzing a wide range of data sources using machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.

 

SaaS-based end-to-end solution

 

Gold Cloud, our SaaS-based end-to-end solution, allows financial service providers to migrate their entire customer acquisition, loan application and loan servicing process onto our platform. Rather than referring the user to the financial service provider’s platform at an early stage in the application process, we support the entire process. We apply our analytical credit model in the application process but the financial service provider has the final decision as to whether it will extend credit. Gold Cloud can also assist users with loan account management and servicing throughout the process.

 

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Gold Cloud appeals to emerging technology-enabled financial service providers and certain small financial service providers which do not have their own risk management departments or which are unable to keep up with best practices in this area. Gold Cloud enables us to remain engaged with the user for longer and build up our relationship and brand. It also gives us additional insights from our data, allowing us to improve our recommendation engine for matching users to financial products.

 

Screening of financial service providers and financial products

 

We screen the financial products that are offered on our platform based on the financial service provider’s licensing status, the suitability of the product for our users, the creditworthiness of the financial service provider, the quality of the customer service provided by the financial service provider, the terms and conditions of the financial products and other factors. One major step in the screening of financial products is examining and verifying the qualifications of the financial service providers that offer them. We examine their business licenses, the qualification certificates for their products and their reputation in the industry and make inquiries about the market acceptance of their financial products. As a part of our internal control process, we conduct our own due diligence on financial service providers and maintain a whitelist of financial service providers based on our verification results. We typically enter into framework agreements of fixed terms with financial service providers and renew them periodically if the relationship continues to be satisfactory.

 

Data and Technology

 

We have built our technology infrastructure relying primarily on proprietary software and systems and to a lesser extent on third-party software that we have modified and incorporated. Our advanced technology is vital in supporting our discovery and recommendation-based open platform for financial products.

 

As an open platform, we have extensive access to data from users, financial service providers and a wide variety of third-party data partners. Our data modeling and analytical capabilities drive product recommendations and credit analysis for users and support credit underwriting and fraud detection and prevention for financial service providers.

 

Big data

 

Data sources and storage.   Users provide us information when they register on our platform and when they apply for financial products through our platform. We have data on applications, approvals and credit performance from financial service providers. We also collaborate with a variety of third-party data partners, including third party credit information providers, payment companies and e-commerce platforms. Our big data storage and distribution system stores and processes a massive amount of multi-dimensional user data, including time and location, user behavior, consumption and social data, which serve as the foundation of our big data technology.

 

Infrastructure and modeling and algorithm support.   The real-time decisioning and fast iteration of our big data model is well supported by our big data infrastructure and algorithms. Our data platform can extract multi-dimensional features from multi-source data in a highly efficient and secure way to support modeling. We use a base big data cluster for the storage and mining of massive volume of user and transaction data. We use a graphic database to support the storage and calculation of billions of items of data on social network relationships. We adopt a framework of streaming computing to support real-time updates to our data and model. As a result, our big data model can complete decisioning within milliseconds after a user uploads or updates his application materials.

 

Search and recommendation technology

 

Advanced search engine .   We developed our sophisticated search engine based on our deep understanding of the characteristics of financial products and the needs of our users. Our search engine is able to identify users’ search intent through user profiling and data mining technology and generate personalized search results within milliseconds through real-time indexing technology. Based on real-time reinforcement learning on users’ search behavior, the search engine can intelligently adjust the ranking of search results and support secondary searches within the existing search results. We believe that our advanced search engine meets the advanced and complex search needs of our users.

 

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Personalized smart recommendation system .   Our personalized smart recommendation system is designed to help users increase the success rate of financial product application, help financial service providers increase their approval rates for financial products and reduce the overall service costs of distributing financial products. Synthesizing a wide variety of data from financial service providers, including data on user profiles, user application histories and feedback on user approvals, we have built our recommendation model through machine learning. The model can predict the success rate of a user’s application for each financial product and estimate the credit limit that the user can obtain. This allows us to make accurate and personalized recommendations of financial products to our users.

 

Our personalized smart recommendation system incorporates the following core technologies:

 

·                  ID mapping and user profiling.  Through ID mapping technology, we extract and integrate multiple dimensions of user data, including financial, social network and internet behavior. As users’ preferences and interests change over time, we create a system of user profiles, which enables us to gain in-depth insights into our users.

 

·                  Feature engineering and model training.  Our models extract the features of different types of data and apply different algorithms to each type. For example, the models process social network data with graphic algorithms such as the PageRank algorithm to identify potential relationships between an applying user and any user with a history of abnormal activity. For credit data, the models apply a deep learning algorithm to categorize users’ credit level. Our models consider credit data and risk data to identify fraudulent users and differentiate other users by creditworthiness for recommendation to financial service providers based on their credit risk appetite.

 

·                  Multi-objective optimized ranking engine.   Our ranking engine is designed to improve user experience, reduce costs for financial service providers and improve our monetization. To achieve multi-objective optimization, we optimize user experience through personalized recommendation and quality control of financial products, we optimize financial service providers’ costs by tailored referral and fraud prevention solutions, and subsequently we optimize our own monetization.

 

Big data risk management solutions

 

We provide risk management solutions based on big data analytics and modeling. We believe big data analytics provide more accurate risk forecasts and support more comprehensive risk management decisioning than the traditional scorecard model. Our data platform can extract features from multi-source data to construct user profiles. We have built a deep transfer learning model to understand the features of and the relationships between different types of data. This understanding helps to increase the generalization ability and forecast performance of our big data model. The entire process of data input, feature generation, modeling optimization and forecast decisioning is free from manual intervention, which accelerates model iteration and protects data security. One primary feature of our big data risk management solutions is the graphing of social network based on a massive volume of data on social relationship to prevent collusion in fraudulent activities. The social network is comprised of billions of nodes, each representing a user attribute, as well as connectors representing relationships among nodes. The system then applies cluster and connectivity analysis to identify social groups within the network, which helps calculate the probability of collusion in fraudulent activities and other risks.

 

Data security

 

We are committed to protecting user data in our business and operations. We use encrypted storage of sensitive data, including data loss prevention solutions. Our network is configured with multiple layers of protection to protect our databases from unauthorized access, and we use sophisticated security protocols for communications between applications. To prevent unauthorized access to our system, we utilize software systems to automatically detect and protect against attacks. Internally, we limit and minimize authorized access to protected information provided by users through a variety of techniques, including network access authentication and division of network security domains. We continually improve and enhance our data and system security through routine checks and timely upgrades.

 

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Sales and Business Development

 

We have built a sales and business development team with extensive experience in both the financial service and internet industries. This team is dedicated to establishing long-term relationships with financial service providers, understanding and anticipating their needs and identifying opportunities for them to adopt our services and solutions. As we strengthen our relationship with a financial service provider and understand more about its strategies and policies, we have the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell additional services and solutions and offer our integrated solutions. Our sales and business development team works closely with financial service providers and continually gains insights into the competitive dynamics of the industry and new market opportunities. These insights help our other departments develop new solutions and technologies and offer new content and features on our platform.

 

We have sales and business development personnel based at our headquarters in Beijing and at our regional offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. This allows our sales and business development team to be in close contact with the research and development team and operations team at our headquarters to maintain an aligned sales and business development strategy. The sales and business development personnel at our regional offices focus on catering and understanding local market requirements, which helps the other teams at our headquarters remain abreast of developments with financial service providers in different regions of China.

 

Marketing and Brand Promotion

 

The “Rong360” brand is well recognized as an intelligent mobile platform for financial products in China. We plan to continue to use the “Rong360” brand for our platform in China.

 

We employ a variety of marketing methods to promote our image as a reliable, smart and accessible platform. Our mascot Rong Bulls in eight colors represent the diversity of our offerings to both users and financial service providers. Our marketing team works closely with our sales and business development team and utilizes our proprietary data analytical capabilities to conduct cost-efficient marketing. We acquire user traffic from third-party channels and incur significant traffic acquisition expenses, which is the largest component of our sales and marketing expenses.These third-party channels include search engines, info feeds, social networking platforms, app stores and specific apps. We also have organic traffic on our platform which is not redirected from third-party channels and for which we do not incur traffic acquisition expenses.

 

We primarily conduct marketing on online, mobile and social media platforms. We use mostly self-produced articles and videos as marketing materials. Since July 2015, we have produced a weekly series of videos on financial literacy including fraud avoidance which has gone viral. There are more than 10 platforms that attracted over 50 million viewers of this series. We have distributed our content through a third-party syndicated content network that includes China Business Network, Tencent’s Wechat social media platform, Youku’s video platform and Toutiao’s news and information mobile app to generate additional user traffic to our platform. We do not pay a fee for this content distribution, except when the content distribution is one element of a marketing campaign and we are paying a fee for the marketing campaign as a whole. Measured by the number of followers of the accounts and channels through which we distribute original content, no more than 2% of the distribution of original content is related to a marketing campaign for which we are paying a fee. We conduct marketing activities from time to time, for instance, RONG360’s exclusive partnership in China with F1-themed carnival, the 2018 RONG360 Banking Partners Summit, and the display of our mascots in the New York Stock Exchange in November 2017 upon our listing and its appearance in more than 48 airports in the United States and financial landmarks across the global in the month following the IPO. We also have co-branding cooperation with selected financial service providers, which helps further promote our brand.

 

We also leverage social network and social media platform as an effective and efficient tool for user acquisition and engagement. We introduced a cooperation system in the third quarter of 2018, through which our users may register as our business partners to recommend the financial products on our platform to their social contacts through social network and social media platform, and are rewarded according to our incentive policies.

 

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We are a standing member of the National Internet Finance Association of China and the Zhongguancun Internet Finance Association.

 

Competition

 

We are an open and independent platform, and our competitors are primarily other companies that also seek to position themselves as open platforms connecting both financial service providers and users primarily in the loan and credit card recommendation businesses. We also compete with platforms that are affiliated with major internet companies, including search engine, social media, e-commerce and online payment companies. Some of these internet companies also offer their financial products on our platform and provide us with user traffic, so they both compete and cooperate with us. In addition, we compete with financial service providers to the extent that they offer or list financial products on their own platform, although some of these financial service providers may also offer or list financial products on our platform as well. We believe that network effects will benefit whichever platform gains a significant first mover advantage in this field, and that it will be difficult for latecomers to establish relationships with financial service providers or, more importantly, to generate sufficient user traffic.

 

Seasonality

 

Our revenue and operating results have fluctuated in the past from quarter to quarter due in part to seasonal variations in demand for financial products. Typically, our revenue is lowest in the first quarter of the year, in part due to the reduced level of borrowing activities during the Chinese New Year holiday, and highest in the fourth quarter of the year. However, due to our limited operating history, the seasonal trends that we have experienced in the past may not apply to, or be indicative of, our future operating results.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We seek to protect our technology, including our proprietary technology infrastructure and core software system, through a combination of copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks and confidentiality agreements. As of the date of this annual report, we hold or otherwise have legal right to use 65 registered copyrights for software or work of art, 35 registered domain names, including rong360.com, and 24 registered trademarks, including “Rong360.”

 

We intend to protect our technology and proprietary rights vigorously, but there can be no assurance that our efforts will be successful. Even if our efforts are successful, we may incur significant costs in defending our rights. From time to time, third parties may initiate litigation against us alleging infringement of their proprietary rights or declaring their non-infringement of our intellectual property rights. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We may not be able to prevent others from making unauthorized use of our intellectual property” and “—We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims, which may be expensive to defend and may disrupt our business and operations.”

 

Insurance

 

We do not maintain business interruption insurance or general third-party liability insurance, nor do we maintain property insurance, product liability insurance or key-man insurance. We consider our insurance coverage to be reasonable in light of the nature of our business and the insurance products that are available in China and in line with the practices of other companies in the same industry of similar size in China.

 

Regulation

 

This section sets forth a summary of the most significant rules and regulations that affect our business activities in China or the rights of our shareholders to receive dividends and other distributions from us.

 

Regulations Related to Internet Information Security and Privacy Protection

 

The PRC government has enacted laws and regulations with respect to internet information security and protection of personal information from any abuse or unauthorized disclosure. Internet information in China is regulated and restricted from a national security standpoint. PRC laws impose criminal penalties for any effort to: (i) gain improper entry into a computer or system of strategic importance; (ii) disseminate politically disruptive information; (iii) leak state secrets; (iv) spread false commercial information; or (v) infringe intellectual property rights. In addition, the Ministry of Public Security has promulgated measures prohibiting use of the internet in ways which result in a leak of state secrets or a spread of socially destabilizing content, among other things. If an internet information service provider violates any of these measures, competent authorities may revoke its operating license and shut down its websites.

 

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Under the Several Provisions on Regulating the Market Order of Internet Information Services, issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2011, an internet information service provider may not collect any personal information on a user or provide any such information to third parties without the user’s consent. It must expressly inform the user of the method, content and purpose of the collection and processing of such user’s personal information and may only collect information to the extent necessary to provide its services. An internet information service provider is also required to properly maintain users’ personal information, and in case of any leak or likely leak of such information, it must take immediate remedial measures and, in the event of a serious leak, report to the telecommunications regulatory authority immediately.

 

Pursuant to the Decision on Strengthening the Protection of Online Information, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 2012, and the Order for the Protection of Telecommunication and Internet User Personal Information, issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2013, any collection and use of a user’s personal information must be subject to the consent of the user, be legal, rational and necessary and be limited to specified purposes, methods and scopes. An internet information service provider must also keep such information strictly confidential, and is further prohibited from divulging, tampering or destroying any such information, or selling or providing such information to other parties. An internet information service provider is required to take technical and other measures to prevent the collected personal information from any unauthorized disclosure, damage or loss. Any violation of these laws and regulations may subject the internet information service provider to warnings, fines, confiscation of illegal gains, revocation of licenses, cancelation of filings, closedown of websites or even criminal liabilities.

 

Pursuant to the Notice of the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security on Legally Punishing Criminal Activities Infringing upon the Personal Information of Citizens, issued in 2013, and the Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Several Issues regarding Legal Application in Criminal Cases Infringing upon the Personal Information of Citizens, which was issued on May 8, 2017 and took effect on June 1, 2017, the following activities may constitute the crime of infringing upon a citizen’s personal information: (i) providing a citizen’s personal information to specified persons or releasing a citizen’s personal information online or through other methods in violation of relevant national provisions; (ii) providing legitimately collected information relating to a citizen to others without such citizen’s consent (unless the information is processed, not traceable to a specific person and not recoverable); (iii) collecting a citizen’s personal information in violation of applicable rules and regulations when performing a duty or providing services; or (iv) collecting a citizen’s personal information by purchasing, accepting or exchanging such information in violation of applicable rules and regulations.

 

The PRC Network Security Law, which was promulgated in November 2016 and took effect on June 1, 2017, requires a network operator, including internet information services providers among others, to adopt technical measures and other necessary measures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations as well as compulsory national and industrial standards to safeguard the safety and stability of network operations, effectively respond to network security incidents, prevent illegal and criminal activities, and maintain the integrity, confidentiality and availability of network data. The Network Security Law emphasizes that any individuals and organizations that use networks must not endanger network security or use networks to engage in unlawful activities such as those endangering national security, economic order and the social order or infringing the reputation, privacy, intellectual property rights and other lawful rights and interests of others. The Network Security Law has also reaffirmed certain basic principles and requirements on personal information protection previously specified in other existing laws and regulations, including those described above. Any violation of the provisions and requirements under the Network Security Law may subject an internet service provider to warnings, fines, confiscation of illegal gains, revocation of licenses, cancellation of filings, closedown of websites or even criminal liabilities.

 

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Users give us certain personal information and we also synthesize, analyze and share the information with financial service providers. We have obtained consent from users to keep and use their personal information, and have also established information security systems to protect the user information and to abide by other network security requirements under applicable laws and regulations.

 

Regulation Related to Foreign Investment

 

Foreign Investment Restriction

 

Investment activities of foreign investors in China are principally governed by the Guidance Catalogue of Industries for Foreign Investment, which was promulgated and is amended from time to time by the Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. Industries listed in the catalogue are divided into three categories: encouraged, restricted and prohibited. Industries not listed in the catalogue are generally open to foreign investment unless specifically restricted by other PRC regulations. The industry of value-added telecommunications services (other than online retail and mobile commerce and certain services which will be open to foreign invested enterprises incorporated in comprehensive pilot demonstration zones and demonstration parks in Beijing) falls into the restricted category.

 

According to the Administrative Regulations on Foreign-Invested Telecommunications Enterprises, as most recently amended in February 2016, foreign-invested value-added telecommunications enterprises must be in the form of a Sino-foreign equity joint venture. The regulations limit the ultimate capital contribution percentage by foreign investor(s) in a foreign-invested value-added telecommunications enterprise to 50% or less and require the primary foreign investor in a foreign invested value-added telecommunications enterprise to have a good track record and operational experience in the industry.

 

In 2006, the predecessor to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the Circular of the Ministry of Information Industry on Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Investment in Value-added Telecommunications Business, according to which a foreign investor in the telecommunications service industry of China must establish a foreign invested enterprise and apply for a telecommunications businesses operation license. This circular further requires that: (i) PRC domestic telecommunications business enterprises must not lease, transfer or sell a telecommunications businesses operation license to a foreign investor through any form of transaction or provide resources, offices and working places, facilities or other assistance to support the illegal telecommunications services operations of a foreign investor; (ii) value-added telecommunications enterprises or their shareholders must directly own the domain names and trademarks used by such enterprises in their daily operations; (iii) each value-added telecommunications enterprise must have the necessary facilities for its approved business operations and maintain such facilities in the regions covered by its license; and (iv) all providers of value-added telecommunications services are required to maintain network and internet security in accordance with the standards set forth in relevant PRC regulations. If a license holder fails to comply with the requirements in the circular and cure such non-compliance, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or its local counterparts have the discretion to take measures against such license holder, including revoking its license for value-added telecommunications business.

 

In light of the above restrictions and requirements, we conduct our value-added telecommunications businesses through our VIEs.

 

Foreign Investment Law

 

On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress approved the FIL, which will take effect on January 1, 2020 and replace three existing laws on foreign investments in China, namely, the PRC Equity Joint Venture Law, the PRC Cooperative Joint Venture Law and the Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations. The FIL embodies an expected PRC regulatory trend to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic invested enterprises in China. The FIL establishes the basic framework for the access to, and the promotion, protection and administration of foreign investments in view of investment protection and fair competition.

 

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According to the FIL, “foreign investments” refer to investment activities conducted by foreign investors directly or “indirectly” in the PRC, which include any of the following circumstances: (i) foreign investors setting up foreign-invested enterprises in the PRC solely or jointly with other investors, (ii) foreign investors obtaining shares, equity interests, property portions or other similar rights and interests of enterprises within the PRC, (iii) foreign investors investing in new projects in the PRC solely or jointly with other investors, and (iv) investment in other methods as specified in laws, administrative regulations, or as stipulated by the State Council. In addition, it is further provided in the FIL that the State Council will publish or approve to publish a catalogue for special administrative measures, or the “negative list.” The FIL grants national treatment to foreign invested entities, except for those foreign invested entities that operate in industries deemed to be either “restricted” or “prohibited” in the “negative list”. Because the “negative list” has yet to be published, it is unclear whether it will differ from the current Special Administrative Measures for Market Access of Foreign Investment (Negative List). The FIL provides that foreign invested entities operating in foreign restricted or prohibited industries will require market entry clearance and other approvals from relevant PRC governmental authorities.

 

Furthermore, the FIL provides that foreign-invested enterprises established according to the existing laws regulating foreign investment may maintain their structure and corporate governance within five years after the implementing of the FIL. In addition, the Foreign Investment Law also provides several protective rules and principles for foreign investors and their investments in the PRC, including, among others, that local governments shall abide by their commitments to the foreign investors; foreign-invested enterprises are allowed to issue stocks and corporate bonds; except for special circumstances, in which case statutory procedures shall be followed and fair and reasonable compensation shall be made in a timely manner, expropriation or requisition of the investment of foreign investors is prohibited; mandatory technology transfer is prohibited; and the capital contributions, profits, capital gains, proceeds out of asset disposal, licensing fees of intellectual property rights, indemnity or compensation legally obtained, or proceeds received upon settlement by foreign investors within the PRC, may be freely remitted inward and outward in RMB or a foreign currency. Also, foreign investors or the foreign-invested enterprises should be imposed legal liabilities for failing to report investment information in accordance with the requirements.

 

Regulations Related to Value-added Telecommunications Services

 

The PRC Telecommunications Regulations, as most recently amended in February 2016, are the primary regulations governing telecommunications services. Under the Telecommunications Regulations, a telecommunications service provider is required to procure operating licenses prior to the commencement of its operations. The Telecommunications Regulations distinguish “basic telecommunications services” from “value-added telecommunications services.” Value-added telecommunications services are defined as telecommunications and information services provided through public networks. A catalogue was issued as an attachment to the Telecommunications Regulations to categorize telecommunications services as either basic or value-added. The current catalogue, as most recently updated in December 2015, categorizes online information services as value-added telecommunications services.

 

The Administrative Measures on Telecommunications Business Operating Licenses, promulgated by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2009 and most recently amended in July 2017, set forth more specific provisions regarding the types of licenses required to operate value-added telecommunications services, the qualifications and procedures for obtaining such licenses and the administration and supervision of such licenses. Under these measures, a commercial operator of value-added telecommunications services must first obtain a license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or its provincial level counterpart, or else such operator might be subject to sanctions including corrective orders and warnings from the competent administration authority, fines and confiscation of illegal gains. In case of serious violations, the operator’s websites may be ordered to be closed.

 

Internet information service is a type of value-added telecommunications service in the current catalogue attached to the Telecommunications Regulations, as most recently updated in December 2015. Pursuant to the Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services, “internet information services” refers to the provision of information through the internet to online users, and they are categorized into “commercial internet information services” and “non-commercial internet information services.” A commercial internet information services operator must obtain a value-added telecommunications services license for internet information services, which is known as an ICP License, from the relevant government authorities before engaging in any commercial internet information services operations in China. No ICP License is required if the operator will only provide internet information on a non-commercial basis. According to the Administrative Measures on Telecommunications Business Operating Licenses, an ICP License has a term of five years and can be renewed within 90 days before expiration.

 

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RDD, one of our variable interest entities, has obtained an ICP License for the provision of commercial internet information services issued by the Beijing Telecommunication Administration in July 2017.

 

In addition to the Telecommunications Regulations and the other regulations discussed above, the provision of commercial internet information services on mobile internet applications is regulated by the Administrative Provisions on Information Services of Mobile Internet Applications, which was promulgated by the State Internet Information Office in June 2016. The information service providers of mobile internet applications are subject to requirements under these provisions, including acquiring the qualifications required by laws and regulations and being responsible for information security.

 

Regulations Related to Internet Advertisements and Online Advertising

 

The PRC government regulates advertising, including online advertising, principally through the State Administration for Market Regulation, formerly known as the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The PRC Advertising Law, as recently amended in April 2015, outlines the regulatory framework for the advertising industry and allows foreign investors to own up to all equity interests in PRC advertising companies.

 

Advertisers, advertising service providers and advertising publishers are required by PRC advertising laws and regulations to ensure that the contents of the advertisements they prepare or distribute are true and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. For example, advertisements must not contain terms such as “the state-level,” “the highest grade,” “the best” or other similar words. In addition, if a special government review is required for certain categories of advertisements before publishing, the advertisers, advertising operators and advertising distributors are obligated to verify that such a review has been performed and the relevant approval has been obtained. Pursuant to the PRC Advertising Law, the use of the internet to distribute advertisements must not affect the normal use of the internet by users. Where internet information service providers know or should know that illegal advertisements are being distributed using their services, they must prevent such distribution.

 

In addition to the regulations described above, the Interim Measures for Administration of Internet Advertising, adopted by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and effective on September 1, 2016, set forth certain compliance requirements for online advertising businesses. Advertising operators and distributors of internet advertisement must examine, verify and record identity information for advertisers such as name, address and contact information, and maintain a verification record that is updated on a regular basis. Moreover, advertising operators and advertising distributors must examine supporting documentation provided by advertisers and verify the contents of the advertisements against supporting documents before publishing them. If the contents of advertisements are inconsistent with the supporting documents, or the supporting documents are incomplete, advertising operators and distributors must refrain from providing design, production, agency or publishing services. These measures also prohibit the following activities: (i) providing or using applications and hardware to block, filter, skip over, tamper with, or cover up lawful advertisements; (ii) using network access, network equipment and applications to disrupt the normal transmission of lawful advertisements or adding or uploading advertisements without authorization; and (iii) harming the interests of a third party by using fake statistics or traffic data.

 

Violation of the foregoing laws and regulations may result in penalties, including fines, confiscation of advertising income, orders to cease dissemination of the advertisements and orders to publish an advertisement correcting the misleading information. In case of serious violations, the State Administration for Market Regulation or its local branches may force the violator to terminate its advertising operation or may even revoke its business license. Furthermore, advertisers, advertising operators or advertising distributors may be subject to civil liability if they infringe on the legal rights and interests of third parties.

 

We conduct our online advertising business through RDD.

 

Regulation Related to Intellectual Property Rights

 

The PRC government has promulgated various laws and regulations relating to the protection of intellectual property. Software owners, licensees and transferees may register their rights in software with the National Copyright Administration or its local branches and obtain software copyright registration certificates. Although such registration is not mandatory under PRC law, software owners, licensees and transferees are encouraged to go through the registration process to enjoy the better protections afforded to registered software rights. The State Intellectual Property Office, formerly the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, handles trademark registrations and grants a protection term of ten years to registered trademarks. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is in charge of the overall administration of domain names in China. The registration of domain names in PRC is on a “first-apply-first-registration” basis. A domain name applicant will become the domain name holder upon the completion of the application procedure.

 

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Regulations Related to Employment

 

The Labor Contract Law, which became effective in 2008, requires employers to enter into written contracts with their employees, restricts the use of temporary workers and aims to give employees long-term job security.

 

Employers are required to contribute to social insurance for their employees in the PRC, including basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance, unemployment insurance, maternity insurance and injury insurance. Employers are also required to make contributions to a housing provident fund for their employees.

 

Regulations Related to Foreign Exchange

 

Regulation on Foreign Currency Exchange

 

The principal regulations governing foreign currency exchange in China are the Foreign Exchange Administration Regulations, most recently amended in 2008. Under PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, such as profit distributions, interest payments and trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, by complying with certain procedural requirements. By contrast, approval from or registration with appropriate government authorities is required where RMB is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital account items, such as direct investments, repayment of foreign currency-denominated loans, repatriation of investments and investments in securities outside of China.

 

In 2012, SAFE promulgated the Circular of Further Improving and Adjusting Foreign Exchange Administration Policies on Foreign Direct Investment, or Circular 59, which substantially amends and simplifies the current foreign exchange procedure. Pursuant to Circular 59, the opening of various special purpose foreign exchange accounts, such as pre-establishment expenses accounts, foreign exchange capital accounts and guarantee accounts, the reinvestment of RMB proceeds derived by foreign investors in the PRC, and remittance of foreign exchange profits and dividends by a foreign-invested enterprise to its foreign shareholders no longer require the approval or verification of SAFE, and multiple capital accounts for the same entity may be opened in different provinces, which was not possible previously. In 2013, SAFE specified that the administration by SAFE or its local branches over direct investment by foreign investors in the PRC must be conducted by way of registration and banks must process foreign exchange business relating to the direct investment in the PRC based on the registration information provided by SAFE and its branches. In February 2015, SAFE promulgated the Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving the Administration of the Foreign Exchange Concerning Direct Investment, or SAFE Notice 13. Instead of applying for approvals regarding foreign exchange registrations of foreign direct investment and overseas direct investment from SAFE, entities and individuals may apply for such foreign exchange registrations from qualified banks. The qualified banks, under the supervision of SAFE, may directly review the applications and conduct the registration.

 

In March 2015, SAFE promulgated the Circular of the SAFE on Reforming the Management Approach regarding the Settlement of Foreign Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprise, or Circular 19, which expands a pilot reform of the administration of the settlement of the foreign exchange capitals of foreign-invested enterprises nationwide. Circular 19 replaced both the Circular of the SAFE on Issues Relating to the Improvement of Business Operations with Respect to the Administration of Foreign Exchange Capital Payment and Settlement of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or Circular 142, and the Circular of the SAFE on Issues concerning the Pilot Reform of the Administrative Approach Regarding the Settlement of the Foreign Exchange Capitals of Foreign-invested Enterprises in Certain Areas, or Circular 36. Circular 19 allows all foreign-invested enterprises established in the PRC to settle their foreign exchange capital on a discretionary basis according to the actual needs of their business operation, provides the procedures for foreign invested companies to use Renminbi converted from foreign currency-denominated capital for equity investments and removes certain other restrictions that had been provided in Circular 142. However, Circular 19 continues to prohibit foreign-invested enterprises from, among other things, using RMB funds converted from their foreign exchange capital for expenditure beyond their business scope and providing entrusted loans or repaying loans between non-financial enterprises. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming and Standardizing the Foreign Exchange Settlement Management Policy of Capital Account, or Circular 16, effective June 2016, which reiterates some of the rules set forth in Circular 19. Circular 16 provides that discretionary foreign exchange settlement applies to foreign exchange capital, foreign debt offering proceeds and remitted foreign listing proceeds, and the corresponding RMB capital converted from foreign exchange may be used to extend loans to related parties or repay inter-company loans (including advances by third parties). However, there are substantial uncertainties with respect to Circular 16’s interpretation and implementation in practice. Circular 19 or Circular 16 may delay or limit us from using the proceeds of offshore offerings to make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries and any violations of these circulars could result in severe monetary or other penalties.

 

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In January 2017, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Further Improving Reform of Foreign Exchange Administration and Optimizing Genuineness and Compliance Verification, or Circular 3, which stipulates several capital control measures with respect to the outbound remittance of profits from domestic entities to offshore entities, including (i) banks must check whether the transaction is genuine by reviewing board resolutions regarding profit distribution, original copies of tax filing records and audited financial statements, and (ii) domestic entities must retain income to account for previous years’ losses before remitting any profits. Moreover, pursuant to Circular 3, domestic entities must explain in detail the sources of capital and how the capital will be used, and provide board resolutions, contracts and other proof as a part of the registration procedure for outbound investment.

 

Regulations on Foreign Exchange Registration of Overseas Investment by PRC Residents

 

In 2014, SAFE issued the SAFE Circular on Relevant Issues Relating to Domestic Resident’s Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, replacing the SAFE Circular on Issues Concerning the Regulation of Foreign Exchange in Equity Finance and Return Investments by Domestic Residents through Offshore Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 75. SAFE Circular 37 regulates foreign exchange matters in relation to the use of special purpose vehicles by PRC residents or entities to seek offshore investment and financing or conduct round trip investment in China. Under SAFE Circular 37, a “special purpose vehicle” refers to an offshore entity established or controlled, directly or indirectly, by PRC residents or entities for the purpose of seeking offshore financing or making offshore investment, using legitimate onshore or offshore assets or interests, while “round trip investment” refers to direct investment in China by PRC residents or entities through special purpose vehicles, namely, establishing foreign-invested enterprises to obtain ownership, control rights and management rights. SAFE Circular 37 provides that, before making a contribution into a special purpose vehicle, PRC residents or entities are required to complete foreign exchange registration with SAFE or its local branch.

 

In 2015, SAFE promulgated the Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving the Administration of the Foreign Exchange Concerning Direct Investment. This notice has amended SAFE Circular 37 by requiring PRC residents or entities to register with qualified banks rather than SAFE or its local branch in connection with their establishment or control of an offshore entity established for the purpose of overseas investment or financing. PRC residents or entities who had contributed legitimate onshore or offshore interests or assets to special purpose vehicles but had not registered as required before the implementation of the SAFE Circular 37 must register their ownership interests or control in the special purpose vehicles with qualified banks. An amendment to the registration is required if there is a material change with respect to the special purpose vehicle registered, such as any change of basic information (including change of the PRC residents, name and operation term), increases or decreases in investment amount, transfers or exchanges of shares, and mergers or divisions. Failure to comply with the registration procedures set forth in SAFE Circular 37 and the subsequent notice, or making misrepresentations or failing to disclose the control of the foreign-invested enterprise that is established through round-trip investment, may result in restrictions being imposed on the foreign exchange activities of the relevant foreign-invested enterprise, including payment of dividends and other distributions, such as proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation, to its offshore parent or affiliate, and the capital inflow from the offshore parent, and may also subject relevant PRC residents or entities to penalties under PRC foreign exchange administration regulations.

 

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Regulations Related to Stock Incentive Plans

 

SAFE promulgated the Circular of the SAFE on Issues concerning the Administration of Foreign Exchange Used for Domestic Individuals’ Participation in Equity Incentive Plans of Companies Listed Overseas, or the Stock Option Rules, in February 2012, replacing the previous rules issued by SAFE in March 2007. Under the Stock Option Rules and other relevant rules and regulations, PRC residents who participate in a stock incentive plan in an overseas publicly listed company are required to register with SAFE or its local branches and complete certain other procedures. Participants in a stock incentive plan who are PRC residents must retain a qualified PRC agent, which could be a PRC subsidiary of the overseas publicly listed company or another qualified institution selected by the PRC subsidiary, to conduct the SAFE registration and other procedures with respect to the stock incentive plan on behalf of the participants. In addition, the PRC agent is required to amend the SAFE registration with respect to the stock incentive plan if there is any material change to the stock incentive plan or the PRC agent or any other material changes. The PRC agent must apply to SAFE or its local branches on behalf of the PRC residents who have the right to exercise the employee share options for an annual quota for the payment of foreign currencies in connection with the PRC residents’ exercise of the employee share options. The foreign exchange proceeds received by the PRC residents from the sale of shares under the stock incentive plans granted and dividends distributed by the overseas listed companies must be remitted into the bank accounts in the PRC opened by the PRC agents before distribution to such PRC residents.

 

See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Any failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding the registration requirements for employee stock incentive plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.”

 

Regulations Related to Dividend Distribution

 

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Holding Company Structure.”

 

Regulations Related to Taxation

 

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus—A. Operating Results—Taxation—China” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders” and “—We may not be able to obtain certain benefits under the relevant tax arrangement for dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to us through our Hong Kong subsidiaries.”

 

Regulations Related to M&A and Overseas Listings

 

In 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, including the Ministry of Commerce, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration for Taxation, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the CSRC, and SAFE, jointly issued the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules.

 

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C.            Organizational Structure

 

The following diagram illustrates the principal entities in our corporate structure as of the date of this annual report:

 

GRAPHIC

 

We conduct most of our business operations through our directly owned subsidiaries. However, due to the PRC legal restrictions on foreign ownership of value-added telecommunications businesses, we conduct a significant part of such operations in China through our VIEs, that provides advertising and marketing services. Advertising, marketing and other services accounted for 6.7% of our total revenues for 2017 and 12.2% for 2018. Our VIEs will also employ part of our research and development team. In addition, RDD has obtained a value-added telecommunications services license for internet information services, which is known as an ICP License.

 

Contractual Arrangements with the VIEs

 

We have entered into a series of contractual arrangements, including an exclusive call option agreement, an equity pledge agreement and an exclusive business cooperation agreement, with the VIEs and their shareholders. These contractual arrangements allow us to exercise effective control over the VIEs, receive substantially all of the economic benefits of the VIEs, and have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in the VIEs when and to the extent permitted by PRC law. As a result of these contractual arrangements, we are regarded as the primary beneficiary of the VIEs, and we treat them as our variable interest entities under U.S. GAAP. We consolidate the financial results of the VIEs and their subsidiaries in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

 

The following is a summary of the contractual arrangements entered into by and among RQN, the VIEs and the shareholders of the VIEs.

 

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Agreements that provide us effective control over the VIEs

 

Exclusive Purchase Option Agreement.   Pursuant to the exclusive purchase option agreement, each of the shareholders of the VIEs irrevocably grants RQN an exclusive option to purchase, or have its designated person to purchase, at its discretion, to the extent permitted under PRC law, all or part of the shareholders’ equity interests in VIEs at the lowest price permitted by applicable PRC law. In addition, each of the VIEs grants RQN an exclusive option to purchase, or have its designated person to purchase, at its discretion, to the extent permitted under PRC law, all or part of the assets of VIEs at the price of the net book value of such assets, or the lowest price permitted by applicable PRC law, whichever is higher. Without the prior written consent of RQN, the VIEs may not increase or decrease the registered capital, dispose of its assets, enter into any material contract with a value exceeding a specific amount except for those executed in the ordinary course of business, appoint or remove any directors, distribute dividends to the shareholders, guarantee its continuance, amend its articles of association and provide any loans to any third parties. The shareholders of the VIEs agree that, without the prior written consent of RQN, they will not transfer or otherwise dispose of their equity interests in the VIEs or create or allow any encumbrance on the equity interests. The exclusive purchase option agreement will remain effective until all equity interests in the VIEs held by its shareholders and all assets owned by the VIEs are transferred or assigned to RQN or its designated representatives.

 

Equity Pledge Agreements.   Pursuant to the equity pledge agreements, each of the shareholders of the VIEs pledges all of their equity interests in the VIEs to guarantee their and the VIEs’ performance of their obligations under the contractual arrangements including, but not limited to, the exclusive business cooperation agreement, exclusive purchase option agreement and shareholders’ power of attorney. If the VIEs or their shareholders breach their contractual obligations under these agreements, RQN, as pledgee, will have the right to dispose of the pledged equity interests. The shareholders of the VIEs agree that, during the term of the equity pledge agreements, they will not dispose of the pledged equity interests or create or allow any encumbrance on the pledged equity interests, and they also agree that the rights of RQN relating to the equity pledges shall not be prejudiced by the legal actions of the shareholders, their successors or their designatees. During the term of the equity pledge agreements, RQN has the right to receive all of the dividends and profits distributed on the pledged equity interests. The equity pledges will remain effective until the VIEs and its shareholders discharge all their obligations under the contractual arrangements. We have completed the process of registering the equity pledges with the relevant office of the administration for industry and commerce in accordance with the PRC Property Rights Law.

 

Power of Attorney.   Pursuant to the power of attorney, each of the shareholders of VIEs will appoint RQN as their attorney-in-fact, to exercise all shareholder rights, including, but not limited to, attending the shareholders’ meeting, voting on all matters of the VIEs requiring shareholder approval, appointing or removing directors and executive officers, and disposing of all or part of the shareholder’s equity interests in the VIEs pursuant to the exclusive purchase option agreement and the equity pledge agreements. The power of attorney of shareholders of VIEs will remain in force for an unlimited term, unless RQN issues a contrary instruction in writing otherwise.

 

Agreement that allows us to receive economic benefits from the VIEs

 

Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreement.   Under the exclusive business cooperation agreement, RQN has the exclusive right to provide the VIEs with technical, consulting and other services needed for the business of the VIEs. In return, RQN is entitled to receive a service fee from the VIEs. RQN is entitled to receive the service fee on a monthly basis and at an amount equivalent to all of the net income of the VIEs, respectively, as confirmed by RQN, which is adjustable at the sole discretion of RQN. RQN owns the exclusive intellectual property rights created as a result of the performance of this agreement. Except with RQN’s prior written consent, the VIEs may not accept any consultation or services provided by any third party and may not cooperate with any third party regarding the matters contemplated by the exclusive business cooperation agreement, unless RQN appoints other parties to provide the VIEs with consultation or services. The exclusive business cooperation agreements between RQN and the VIEs, respectively, will remain effective unless terminated unilaterally by RQN.

 

In the opinion of Fangda Partners, our PRC legal counsel:

 

·                  the ownership structure of our variable interest entities and wholly foreign owned subsidiaries in China does not violate any applicable PRC laws or regulations currently in effect; and

 

·                  the contractual arrangements among our wholly foreign owned subsidiaries, our variable interest entities and the shareholders of our variable interest entities governed by PRC law are valid, binding and enforceable in accordance with their terms and applicable PRC laws or regulations currently in effect and do not violate any applicable PRC laws or regulations currently in effect.

 

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However, there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws, regulations and rules. Accordingly, the PRC regulatory authorities may in the future take a view that is contrary to or otherwise different from the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—If the PRC government deems that our contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the newly adopted PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.”

 

D.            Property, Plant and Equipment

 

Our headquarters are located at the Zhongguancun technology hub in Beijing. Our research and development facilities and our management and operations facilities are located at our headquarters and two other locations in Beijing. We have sales and business development personnel at our headquarters in Beijing and at our regional offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. We currently lease approximately 5,650 square meters of office space in Beijing, approximately 340 square meters of office space in Shanghai, approximately 300 square meters of office space in Shenzhen, and approximately 850 square meters of office space in Hangzhou.

 

ITEM 4A.                                       UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 5.                                                OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report on Form 20-F.

 

A.            Operating Results

 

Overview

 

We are the leading independent open platform for discovery and recommendation of financial products in China. Our users have access to an extensive range of financial products on our platform, including consumer and other loans, credit cards, and wealth management products. We synthesize a massive volume of data and leverage our proprietary technology to identify and recommend the most suitable products for each user’s specific financial circumstances. Users can also access credit management tools and a wide range of information and content on our platform. Gold Cloud, our SaaS-based end-to-end solution which we introduced in the first quarter of 2016, supports the application, approval and loan servicing process for a large and growing percentage of our loan products, allowing financial service providers to offer a seamless user experience.

 

We generate our revenue primarily from fees that we charge financial service providers or their agents for our recommendation services for loan products on a cost-per-action basis, where the action is generally determined by a user’s completion of a loan application, and for credit card products on a cost-per-success basis, where the success is most often defined as the issuance of a credit card. To a lesser extent, we provide display and performance-based advertising and marketing services primarily to financial service providers of credit cards and wealth management products. We also offer financial service providers big data risk management solutions, which we introduced in the second quarter of 2015.

 

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We have experienced substantial revenue growth since we commenced operations in 2011. Our revenues increased by 39.1% from RMB1,445.8 million in 2017 to RMB2,011.8 million (US$292.6 million) in 2018, and our net loss decreased by 20.9% from RMB202.1 million to RMB159.8 million (US$23.2 million) over the same period.

 

Our Relationship with RONG360

 

Before the completion of transfer of the platform business from RONG360 to us, our business was historically operated by RONG360 Inc. through its subsidiaries and variable interest entity. Our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report include the assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and cash flows that were directly attributable to us throughout the periods presented. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus—A. Operating Results——Critical Accounting Policies, Judgments and Estimates—Basis of Presentation and Principles of Consolidation.”

 

Historically, RONG360 operated our business with its financial, administrative, sales and marketing, legal and information technology resources, as well as the services of its executive officers and other employees, the costs of which were allocated to us based on the proportion of revenues, infrastructure usage, labor usage and other factors attributable to our business, and were included in our consolidated financial statements for the periods presented. In October 2017, we completed the transfer of the platform business from RONG360 to us, and since then, our business has been operated by our own subsidiaries and variable interest entities. In addition, as a part of the Restructuring, RONG360 transferred all operating assets and liabilities relating to our business to our company, as well as all related personnel and business contracts. As a result, we have our own financial, administrative, sales and marketing, legal and information technology functions to operate our business. We have entered into a transitional services agreement with RONG360 Inc. with respect to various ongoing relationships between us and RONG360. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions—Agreement with RONG360.”

 

On July 31, 2018, RONG360 completed the share distribution of our ordinary shares held by it to the existing shareholders of RONG360 in proportion to RONG360’s shareholding structure, and thus completed the Restructuring to strengthen our positioning as an independent open platform. For more details, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” Following the completion of the share distribution, RONG360 is no longer our parent company.

 

Key Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

 

Economic and industry trends in China

 

The growth in consumer lending in China in recent years has been supported by generally rising consumer demand and increased willingness to assume credit. Consumer demand has increased as China’s emerging middle class has enjoyed more disposable income, and Chinese consumers have been more willing to take on debt in an environment of relative economic stability and good employment prospects. With the rapid growth in China’s internet population, financial service providers have been seeking online channels to access those segments of the population that previously have been underserved, including the younger generation of potential customers that increasingly prefer mobile access to the internet. In addition, new technology-enabled financial service providers have emerged to compete with traditional financial institutions and take advantage of this market opportunity, which in turn gives traditional financial institutions an incentive to utilize online channels. Lending to SMEs has also grown rapidly in China as SMEs have grown significantly and more financial service providers have been focusing on SME lending. The growth of our business will depend in part on the continuation of these trends.

 

Effectiveness of matching and recommendation

 

The revenue and growth of our recommendation services for financial service providers primarily depend on the effectiveness of our matching and recommendation capabilities. We rely on our data insights and proprietary technologies to efficiently match users with the financial products most suitable to their needs and increase the success rate of their applications to attract users to our platform. In turn, our user base enables us to serve financial service providers in reaching and serving their target customers more effectively through online and mobile channels. As we generate the majority of our revenues from recommendation services for financial service providers, we must continually enhance our data insights and strengthen our proprietary technologies to improve our matching and recommendation capabilities.

 

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Integration with financial service providers

 

We launched our online platform in 2012 with sales and marketing solutions, and introduced big data risk management solutions in 2015 and Gold Cloud in 2016. Through cooperation with financial service providers, we have further improved and developed the services and solutions that we can offer to them. These services and solutions often require some degree of integration between our systems and the financial service provider’s, which increases their efficiency and also give financial service providers an additional incentive to remain on our platform. Increased integration also gives us access to more and better data, enabling better curation of financial products and improving monetization. We offer a range of solutions requiring different degrees of integration, and over time, financial service providers have been increasingly adopting solutions that require greater levels of integration. For this trend to continue, we must continue to enhance our data insights and develop proprietary technology to make our new and existing solutions more attractive to financial service providers. Developing new solutions will also give us more opportunities to cross sell.

 

Expansion of our user base and user activity

 

Although we generate our revenue primarily from fees that we charge financial service providers, their demand for our services and solutions largely depends on our ability to help them reach and serve their target customers. Therefore, the size and characteristics of our user base on our platform significantly affect our revenue and results of operations. We must maintain a large and active user base that is geographically and demographically diverse. We have incurred significant expenses and devoted considerable resources to marketing activities and user traffic acquisition as we have grown our business, and we expect to continue to incur significant expenses as we grow. To achieve profitability, we must be able to retain and expand our user base and user activity in a cost effective manner.

 

Operating leverage of our platform

 

We have incurred significant expenses in building our platform and developing capabilities in data analytics and technology. Our business model is highly scalable and our platform is built to support our continued growth. While we expect our expenses to increase in absolute terms as our business expands, we also expect them to decrease as a proportion of our total revenues as we leverage our platform and achieve more economies of scale. Personnel costs have been the largest component of our total costs and expenses after marketing expenses, so to maintain and improve the operating leverage of our platform we must be able to grow our business without adding disproportionately to our personnel costs.

 

Ability to compete effectively

 

Our business and results of operations depend on our ability to compete effectively in the markets in which we operate. We compete primarily with other companies that also seek to position themselves as open platforms serving both borrowers and financial service providers. We also compete with platforms that are affiliated with major internet companies, including search engine, social media, e-commerce and online payment companies. Some of these internet companies also offer their financial products on our platform, so they both compete and cooperate with us. In addition, we compete with financial service providers to the extent that they offer or list financial products on their own platform, and some of these financial service providers may also offer financial products on our platform as well. The internet finance industry is continually evolving, and new competitors may emerge at any time. We must continue to innovate our services and solutions in a way that financial service providers will find attractive. Our ability to compete effectively depends in large part on our ability to anticipate the needs of both financial service providers and users.

 

Regulatory environment in China

 

The PRC government’s regulatory framework governing the online consumer finance market is rapidly evolving and is subject to further change and interpretation, and the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are ambiguous and may be interpreted and applied inconsistently between different governing authorities. If the PRC government adopts stringent regulations on financial service providers in the online consumer finance market, the growth of that market may slow, which may limit our growth. If they impose specific requirements (including licensing requirements) on us, the requirements may be difficult or costly for us to comply with. Regulations may be adopted in a way that favor competing business models or that disadvantage the internet finance industry as a whole in comparison to traditional financial institutions.

 

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Key Components of Results of Operations

 

Revenues

 

Our revenues are derived from recommendation services for loans and credit cards and advertising, marketing and other services offered to financial service providers.

 

The following table sets forth the breakdown of our total revenues, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of our total revenues, for the periods presented:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

US$

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loans

 

238,846

 

67.0

 

1,119,456

 

77.4

 

1,015,407

 

147,686

 

50.5

 

Credit cards

 

64,911

 

18.2

 

228,905

 

15.9

 

750,941

 

109,220

 

37.3

 

Total recommendation services

 

303,757

 

85.2

 

1,348,361

 

93.3

 

1,766,348

 

256,906

 

87.8

 

Advertising, marketing and other services

 

52,630

 

14.8

 

97,412

 

6.7

 

245,494

 

35,706

 

12.2

 

Total revenues

 

356,387

 

100.0

 

1,445,773

 

100.0

 

2,011,842

 

292,612

 

100.0

 

 

Recommendation services.   We record fees charged for our recommendation services for loan products on a cost-per-action basis, where the action is generally determined by a user’s completion of a loan application. Due to macro slowdown and online lending market adjustments pertaining to the new regulatory framework since December 2017, the loan applications on the Company’s platform has experienced fluctuation in volume and the average fee per loan application. The number of loan applications on the Company’s platform was approximately 71.3 million in the fiscal year 2018, representing a decrease of approximately 20.6% from the prior year.  The average fee per loan application decreased by 12.2% from RMB14.21 in 2016 to RMB12.46 in 2017, and increased by 14.3% to RMB14.24 (US$2.07) in 2018.

 

We record fees charged for our recommendation services for credit card products on a cost-per-success basis, where the success is most often defined as the issuance of a credit card and in other cases by the completion of an application or the first usage of a credit card, depending on the credit card issuer’s policy. Credit card volume for recommendation services in the fiscal year 2018 was approximately 7.1 million, representing a significant increase of approximately 184% from fiscal year 2017. Our average fee per credit card, based on the portion of our credit card volume relating to our recommendation services revenues, increased significantly from RMB74.17 in 2016 to RMB92.78 in 2017 and further to RMB105.19 (US$15.30) in 2018.

 

Advertising, marketing and other services.   We provide performance-based and to a lesser extent time-based advertising and marketing services primarily to financial service providers of credit cards and wealth management products, both on our own platform and on third-party search engine, social networking or other platforms where we purchase advertising resources.

 

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Cost of revenues

 

The following table sets forth our cost of revenues, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenues, for the periods indicated:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

US$

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Cost of revenues

 

(66,683

)

18.7

 

(143,828

)

9.9

 

(223,339

)

(32,483

)

11.1

 

 

Cost of revenues consists primarily of direct costs relating to advertising and marketing services revenue, data acquisition costs and short message service (SMS) fees, bandwidth and server hosting cost. Our total cost of revenues has been growing in absolute terms as we have expanded our business. The percentage of our cost to total revenues decreased from year ended December 31, 2016 and remained stable for the periods of year ended December 31, 2017 and 2018.

 

Operating Expenses

 

Our operating expenses consist of sales and marketing expenses, research and development expenses and general and administrative expenses. Our expenses have been growing in absolute terms as we have expanded our business, while the percentage of the total revenues decreased, primarily contributed by our continuous efforts to operation optimization.

 

The following table sets forth our operating expenses, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenues, for the periods indicated:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

US$

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales and marketing

 

(382,915

)

107.4

 

(1,227,896

)

84.9

 

(1,547,518

)

(225,077

)

76.9

 

Research and development

 

(72,832

)

20.4

 

(153,905

)

10.7

 

(241,270

)

(35,091

)

12.0

 

General and administrative

 

(16,273

)

4.6

 

(93,718

)

6.5

 

(178,371

)

(25,943

)

8.9

 

Total operating expenses

 

(472,020

)

132.4

 

(1,475,519

)

102.1

 

(1,967,159

)

(286,111

)

97.8

 

 

Sales and marketing expenses

 

Our sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of marketing expenses relating to traffic acquisition, rewards to business partners for promotion in social network and social media platform, payroll costs and related expenses for employees involved in sales and marketing activities, and expenses for the portion of our call center operations that we outsource. We expense all sales and marketing costs as incurred. We expect that our sales and marketing expenses will increase in absolute terms as we engage in more marketing and sales activities and hire additional sales and marketing personnel.

 

Research and development expenses

 

Our research and development expenses consist primarily of payroll costs and related expenses for employees involved in developing and improving our platform and our services and solutions. We expense all research and development costs as incurred. We expect that our research and development expenses will increase in absolute terms as we continue to develop big data related services, new technology and other services.

 

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General and administrative expenses

 

Our general and administrative expenses consist primarily of payroll costs and related expenses for employees involved in general corporate functions, including finance, legal and human resources, and professional fees relating to these functions. We expect that our general and administrative expenses will increase in absolute terms as we hire additional personnel and incur costs related to the anticipated growth of our business and our operation as a public company.

 

Taxation

 

Cayman Islands

 

We are not subject to income or capital gains tax under the current laws of the Cayman Islands. There are no other taxes likely to be material to us levied by the government of the Cayman Islands.

 

Hong Kong

 

Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited, our subsidiary incorporated in Hong Kong, is subject to Hong Kong profits tax at a rate of 16.5%. Hong Kong does not impose a withholding tax on dividends.

 

China

 

Our PRC subsidiaries and our variable interest entities which are considered PRC resident enterprises under PRC tax law, are subject to enterprise income tax on their worldwide taxable income as determined under PRC tax laws and accounting standards at a rate of 25% except for 15% for the entities qualified as High and New Technology Enterprises. In addition, our PRC subsidiaries and our variable interest entities are subject to value added taxes, or VAT, at a rate of 6% on the services we provide to financial service providers, less any deductible VAT we have already paid or borne. They are also subject to surcharges on VAT payments in accordance with PRC law.

 

Dividends paid by our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China to our intermediary holding company in Hong Kong will be subject to a withholding tax rate of 10%, unless they qualify for a special exemption. If Jianpu (Hong Kong) Limited satisfies all the requirements under the Arrangement between the Mainland China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Tax Evasion on Income and receives approval from the relevant tax authority, then dividends paid by our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China will be subject to a withholding tax rate of 5% instead. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may not be able to obtain certain benefits under the relevant tax arrangement for dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to us through our Hong Kong subsidiaries.”

 

If our holding company in the Cayman Islands or any of our subsidiaries outside of China were deemed to be a “resident enterprise” under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, it would be subject to enterprise income tax on its worldwide income at a rate of 25%. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.”

 

Critical Accounting Policies, Judgments and Estimates

 

An accounting policy is considered critical if it requires an accounting estimate to be made based on assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain at the time such estimate is made, and if different accounting estimates that reasonably could have been used, or changes in the accounting estimates that are reasonably likely to occur periodically, could materially impact the consolidated financial statements.

 

We prepare our financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP, which requires us to make judgments, estimates and assumptions. We continually evaluate these estimates and assumptions based on the most recently available information, our own historical experiences and various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. Since the use of estimates is an integral component of the financial reporting process, actual results could differ from our expectations as a result of changes in our estimates. Some of our accounting policies require a higher degree of judgment than others in their application and require us to make significant accounting estimates.

 

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The following descriptions of critical accounting policies, judgments and estimates should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes and other disclosures included in this annual report. When reviewing our financial statements, you should consider (i) our selection of critical accounting policies, (ii) the judgments and other uncertainties affecting the application of such policies and (iii) the sensitivity of reported results to changes in conditions and assumptions.

 

Basis of presentation and principles of consolidation

 

Prior to the completion of transfer of the platform business to us, our business was carried out by various subsidiaries and a variable interest entity of RONG360 Inc. that were under common control with us by RONG360. The accompanying consolidated financial statements include the assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and cash flows that were directly attributable to our business for all periods presented. The historical funding provided by RONG360 for our business was deemed and presented as a contribution to us from RONG360 in the consolidated financial statements. However, such presentation may not necessarily reflect the results of operations, financial position and cash flows if we had actually existed on a stand-alone basis during the periods presented.

 

The assets and liabilities had been stated at historical carrying amounts. Only those assets and liabilities that were specifically identifiable to the our business were included in our consolidated balance sheets. Income tax liability was calculated based on a separate return basis as if we had filed a separate tax return. Our statement of comprehensive loss consisted all the related revenues, costs and expenses of our business, including allocation to the cost of revenues, sales and marketing expenses, research and development expenses, and general and administrative expenses, which were incurred by RONG360 but related to our business prior to the transfer of the platform business. These allocated costs and expenses were primarily related to workplace resources, information technology supports and certain corporate functions, including senior management, finance, legal and human resources, as well as share-based compensation. These allocations were based on proportional cost allocation by considering proportion of headcount and transaction volume, among other things, attributable to us and were made on a basis considered reasonable by our management.

 

The following table sets forth the cost of revenues, sales and marketing expenses, research and development expenses, and general and administrative expenses allocated from RONG360 for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017 prior to the transfer of platform business to us:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December
31

 

 

 

2016

 

2017

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Cost of revenues

 

7,930

 

8,081

 

Sales and marketing expenses

 

23,785

 

25,049

 

Research and development expenses

 

18,175

 

29,940

 

General and administrative expenses

 

15,386

 

11,882

 

Total

 

65,276

 

74,952

 

 

Our business was operated within RONG360 Inc.’s corporate cash management program prior to the transfer of platform business from RONG360 to us by the end of October 2017. For purposes of presentation in our consolidated statements of cash flows, the cash flow from RONG360 to support our business was presented as funding from RONG360, which was included in cash flows from financing activities. Funding from RONG360 as disclosed under cash flows from financing activities also reflected the changes in contribution from RONG360 as presented in the consolidated statements of changes in invested/shareholders’ (deficit)/equity.

 

Our consolidated financial statements related to periods after the completion of the transfer of the platform business from RONG360 to us include the financial statements of Jianpu Technology Inc., its subsidiaries and the variable interest entities for which Jianpu Technology Inc. is the ultimate primary beneficiary. Subsidiaries are those entities in which Jianpu Technology Inc., directly or indirectly, controls more than one half of the voting power, or has the power to govern the financial and operating policies, to appoint or remove the majority of the members of the board of directors, or to cast a majority of votes at the meeting of directors.

 

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A variable interest entity is an entity in which Jianpu Technology Inc., or its subsidiary, through contractual arrangements, exercises effective control over the activities that most impact the economic performance, bears the risks of, and enjoys the rewards normally associated with ownership of the entity, and therefore Jianpu Technology Inc. or its subsidiary is the primary beneficiary of the entity.

 

All significant intercompany transactions and balances between Jianpu Technology Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiaries and the variable interest entities are eliminated upon consolidation.

 

Revenue recognition

 

We operate a platform for discovery and recommendation of financial products, including consumer and other loans, credit cards, and wealth management products offered by a variety of financial service providers. Our platform includes our website, mobile website and mobile apps, which enable users to browse and search product information and initiate an online application. We generate revenues from recommendation services for loans and credit cards and from advertising, marketing and other services. On January 1, 2018, we adopted ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (“ASC 606”), using the modified retrospective method. Revenues for reporting periods beginning after January 1, 2018 are presented under ASC606, while revenues for prior periods are not adjusted and continue to be presented under ASC Topic 605. The accumulated effect of adopting ASC 606 to the opening balance of accumulated losses as of January 1, 2018 is not material, therefore it was not adjusted.

 

Consistent with the criteria of ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, we recognize revenues when performance obligations under the terms of a contract with a customer are satisfied and promised services have transferred to the customer, in an amount of consideration to which an entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services and net of value-added tax. For service arrangements that involve multiple performance obligations, the transaction price is allocated to each performance obligation based on relative standalone selling prices of services being provided to customers. For the periods presented, we primarily use the price to be charged for the service when the service is sold separately in similar circumstances to similar customers to determine the relative standalone selling price.

 

We account for discounts and return allowances as variable consideration. We consider the constraint on variable consideration and only recognize revenue to the extent that it is probable that a significant reversal will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the variable consideration is subsequently resolved. Customers for recommendation services are entitled to apply for returns for invalid recommendations within a specified period after the recommendation is delivered under a limited circumstances, i.e., the applicant’s phone number cannot be connected, or the applicant is in the blacklist maintained by the financial service providers, etc. Return allowances are estimated based on historical experiences of returns granted to customers

 

Timing of revenue recognition may differ from the timing of payment from customers. We do not have material contract assets as we generally have the unconditional right to payment as revenue is recognized or the timing difference is immaterial. Accounts receivable represents amounts that we have satisfied the performance obligation and have the unconditional right to payment. Unearned revenue consists of payments received related to unsatisfied performance obligations at the end of the period, included in “Advance from customers” in our consolidated balance sheets. Due to the generally short-term duration of the Group’s contracts, the majority of the performance obligations are satisfied in one year. The amount of revenue recognized that was included in the receipts in advance from customers balance at the beginning of the year was RMB 70.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.

 

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Recommendation services:

 

(i) Loans

 

We provide recommendation services in respect of loan products offered by the financial service providers on our platform, and assist the financial service providers or their loan sales representatives to identify qualified individual users or borrowers. We consider the financial service providers, including banks, micro-loan companies and other licensed financial institutions, consumer finance companies and emerging technology-enabled financial service providers, or their loan sales representatives to be our customers, and receives service fees from the customers primarily based on number of applications of qualified users. After the users or borrowers submit applications for the recommended products to the customers, we do not retain any further obligations. The price for each recommendation charged to the financial service providers is a fixed price as pre-agreed in the service contract, or pre-set in the bidding systems by the customers. The price is not determined by the size or duration of the loan underlying of each recommendation. Revenue is recognized when all of the revenue recognition criteria are met, which is generally when the user application is delivered to customers.

 

(ii) Credit card

 

We provide recommendation services in respect of credit card products offered by credit card issuers or their agents on our platform. The individual users can select and apply for the credit cards, and submit applications to credit card issuers or their agents. We are not involved in the credit card approval or issuance process. Service fee is charged to the customers, i.e., the credit card issuers or their agents, upon completion of an application, issuance or first usage of a credit card by the users (collectively referred to as “cost-per-success”). Revenue is recognized when all of the revenue recognition criteria are met, which is generally when the customers confirm the number of card application, issuance or first usage with us.

 

(iii) Advertising and marketing services

 

We also provide advertising, marketing and other services primarily to financial service providers of credit cards and wealth management products. Our advertising and marketing services allow customers to place advertisements in particular areas of our platform and third-party advertising network, at performance-based or time-based fixed prices, in particular formats and over particular periods of time. Performance-based revenues are recognized based on effective clicks, or effective activations, depending on the relevant performance measures. The effective clicks refer to that users click on the advertisements. The effective activations primarily include providing contact information or completing a registration form by users on the advertisers’ websites redirected from the advertisements, and user’s application are successfully approved by the credit card issuers in the case of advertising and marketing services related to credit card products. Time-based revenues are recognized ratably over the contractual term.

 

For service arrangements involved with third-party platforms, we consider whether we should report revenues on a gross or net basis by assessing all indicators set forth in ASC 606, and determine if we are acting as principal or agent. For arrangements where we control the service before it is transferred to the customer as a principal, as we are the primary obligor, subject to inventory risk, and having discretion in establishing prices, revenue is recorded on a gross basis on the amount of fees we billed to our customers, and the related marketing costs charged by third party platforms that are directly attributable to the customers are recorded as costs of revenues. Otherwise, the revenue is record on a net basis.

 

Other services

 

Other services primarily consist of big data risk management services provided by us, which integrates data and provides customizable automatic credit information inquiry services to customers, i.e., the financial service providers, to facilitate their credit assessment primarily for loan products applicants. Revenue is recognized when all of the revenue recognition criteria are met, which is generally when the result of query is provided to customers with a pre-agreed fixed price.

 

Share-based Compensation Expense and Valuation of Underlying Equity

 

We have early adopted ASU 2018-07 (Please refer to note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus) for accounting for the share-based awards granted to non-employees. All share-based awards granted to employees or non-employees, including restricted ordinary shares and share options, are measured at fair value on grant date. Share-based compensation expense is recognized using the straight-line vesting method for awards that contain only service conditions, and using graded vesting method for other awards, net of estimated forfeitures, over the requisite service period, which is the vesting period.

 

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We use the Binomial option pricing model to estimate fair value of the share options. The determination of estimated fair value of share-based awards on the grant date using an option pricing model is affected by the fair value of underlying ordinary shares as well as assumptions regarding a number of complex and subjective variables. These variables include the expected value volatility of underlying ordinary shares over the expected term of the awards, actual and projected share option exercise behaviors, a risk free interest rate and any expected dividends. The underlying ordinary shares which do not have quoted market prices, were valued based on the income approach. Determination of estimated fair value of the underlying ordinary shares requires complex and subjective judgments due to their limited financial and operating history, unique business risks and limited public information on companies in China similar to them.

 

Forfeitures are estimated at the time of grant and revised in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from those estimates. We use historical data to estimate forfeitures of the pre-vesting options and record share-based compensation expenses only for those awards that are expected to vest.

 

For share options granted with performance condition, the share-based compensation expenses are recorded when the performance condition is considered probable. Where the occurrence of an IPO is a performance condition, cumulative share-based compensation expenses for the options that have satisfied the service condition are recorded upon the completion of the IPO.

 

Our share based awards granted to employees of the non-platform business should be recognized as a deemed dividend from us to our shareholders at the fair value determined as of the grant date.

 

The detailed information of the share-based compensation expenses recognized for the year ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 is included in note 15 to our consolidated financial statements in this annual report.

 

Business combinations

 

We account for our business combinations using the purchase method of accounting in accordance with ASC topic 805, Business Combinations. The purchase method of accounting requires that the consideration transferred to be allocated to the assets, including separately identifiable assets and liabilities we acquired, based on their estimated fair values. The consideration transferred in an acquisition is measured as the aggregate of the fair values at the date of exchange of the assets given, liabilities incurred, and equity instruments issued as well as the contingent considerations and all contractual contingencies as of the acquisition date. The costs directly attributable to the acquisition are expensed as incurred. Identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities acquired or assumed are measured separately at their fair value as of the acquisition date, irrespective of the extent of any noncontrolling interests. The excess of (i) the total of cost of acquisition, fair value of the noncontrolling interests and acquisition date fair value of any previously held equity interest in the acquiree over (ii) the fair value of the identifiable net assets of the acquiree, is recorded as goodwill. If the cost of acquisition is less than the fair value of the net assets of the subsidiary acquired, the difference is recognized directly in earnings.

 

The determination and allocation of fair values to the identifiable assets acquired, liabilities assumed and noncontrolling interests is based on various assumptions and valuation methodologies requiring considerable judgment from management. The most significant variables in these valuations are discount rates, terminal values, the number of years on which to base the cash flow projections, as well as the assumptions and estimates used to determine the cash inflows and outflows. We determine discount rates to be used based on the risk inherent in the related activity’s current business model and industry comparisons. Terminal values are based on the expected life of assets, forecasted life cycle and forecasted cash flows over that period.

 

Results of Operations

 

The following table sets forth a summary of our consolidated results of operations for the periods indicated, both in absolute amounts and as percentages of our total revenues. This information should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. The operating results in any period are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future period.

 

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For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

%

 

RMB

 

US$

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation services:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loans (including revenues from related party of RMB19,932, RMB102,997 and RMB105,492 for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.)

 

238,846

 

67.0

 

1,119,456

 

77.4

 

1,015,407

 

147,686

 

50.5

 

Credit cards

 

64,911

 

18.2

 

228,905

 

15.9

 

750,941

 

109,220

 

37.3

 

Total recommendation services

 

303,757

 

85.2

 

1,348,361

 

93.3

 

1,766,348

 

256,906

 

87.8

 

Advertising, marketing and other services (including revenues from related party of nil, nil and RMB13,405 for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively)

 

52,630

 

14.8

 

97,412

 

6.7

 

245,494

 

35,706

 

12.2

 

Total revenues

 

356,387

 

100.0

 

1,445,773

 

100.0

 

2,011,842

 

292,612

 

100.0

 

Cost of revenues

 

(66,683

)

(18.7

)

(143,828

)

(9.9

)

(223,339

)

(32,483

)

(11.1

)

Gross profit

 

289,704

 

81.3

 

1,301,945

 

90.1

 

1,788,503

 

260,129

 

88.9

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

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