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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 20-F

(Mark One)

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

OR

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

For the fiscal year ended December 312022

OR

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

OR

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 001-38230

Qudian Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Tower A, AVIC Zijin Plaza

Siming District, Xiamen

Fujian Province 361000,

People’s Republic of China

(Address of principal executive offices)

Min Luo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Telephone: telephone: +86-592-5911580

Email: ir@qudian.com

At the address of the Company set forth above

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

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

Title of each class

    

Trading Symbol(s)

    

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each representing one Class A ordinary share

 

QD

 

New York Stock Exchange

Class A Ordinary Shares, par value US$0.0001 per share*

 

 

 

 

*

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)

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.

    

168,755,154 Class A ordinary shares 63,491,172 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.

Yes 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.

Yes 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.

Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted 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).

Yes No

Large accelerated filer  

    

Accelerated filer  

    

Non-accelerated filer  

    

Emerging growth company  

If an emerging growth company that prepares 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.   

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 whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.   

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive ocers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

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

U.S. GAAP  

    

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

    

Other  

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

    

Item 17    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 Securities Exchange Act of 1934).

Yes   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.

Yes   No

Table of Contents

CONVENTIONS THAT APPLY TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

1

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

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

48

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

85

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

86

ITEM 6.

DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

110

ITEM 7.

MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

119

ITEM 8.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

120

ITEM 9.

THE OFFER AND LISTING

122

ITEM 10.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

122

ITEM 11.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

130

ITEM 12.

DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES

131

Part II.

133

ITEM 13.

DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES

133

ITEM 14.

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

133

ITEM 15.

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

134

ITEM 16A.

AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT

134

ITEM 16B.

CODE OF ETHICS

135

ITEM 16C.

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

135

ITEM 16D.

EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES

135

ITEM 16E.

PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS

136

ITEM 16F.

CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT

136

ITEM 16G.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

137

ITEM 16H.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE

137

ITEM 16I.

DISCLOSURE REGARDING FOREIGN JURISDICTIONS THAT PREVENT INSPECTIONS

137

ITEM 16J.

INSIDER TRADING POLICIES

137

Part III.

138

ITEM 17.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

138

ITEM 18.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

138

ITEM 19.

EXHIBITS

139

SIGNATURES

143

INDEX TO AUDITED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

F-1

i

CONVENTIONS THAT APPLY TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

Except where the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report to:

“ADSs” are to our American depositary shares, each of which represents one Class A ordinary share, and “ADRs” are to the American depositary receipts that evidence our ADSs;
“amount of transactions” are to the aggregate principal amount of credit drawdowns that are provided to borrowers in the specified period, which are comprised of (i) credit drawdowns that are facilitated under the Group’s loan book business and (ii) credit drawdowns that are facilitated under the Group’s transaction services business;
“China” and the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Taiwan, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region;
“the Group” are to Qudian Inc., the Group VIEs and their respective subsidiaries;
“Group VIEs” are to Beijing Happy Time Technology Development Co., Ltd., or Beijing Happy Time, Xiamen Qudian Technology Co., Ltd., or Xiamen Qudian, and Ganzhou Qudian Technology Co., Ltd, or Ganzhou Qudian;
“loan book business” are to the Group’s business of offering small credit products to consumers; the relevant transactions may be funded by the Group’s institutional funding partners or the Group’s own capital, and the Group undertakes credit risk for such transactions. The Group ceased new credit offering under its loan book business since September 6, 2022;
“M1+ delinquency coverage ratio” are to the balance of allowance for principal and financing service fee receivables at the end of a period, divided by the total balance of outstanding principal for on-balance sheet transactions for which any installment payment was more than 30 calendar days past due as of the end of such period;
“M1+ delinquency rate by vintage” are to the total outstanding principal balance of the transactions of a vintage for which any repayment is overdue for more than 30 days, divided by the total initial principal of the transactions facilitated in such vintage;
“off-balance sheet transactions” are to credit drawdowns under the Group’s loan book business that are not recorded on the Group’s balance sheets; the Group bears credit risk for such transactions;
“on-balance sheet transactions” are to credit drawdowns under the Group’s loan book business that are recorded on the Group’s balance sheets;
“provision ratio” are to the amount of provision for loan principal and financing service fee receivables incurred during a period as a percentage of the total amount of on-balance sheet transactions facilitated during such period;
“P2P platforms” are to financial information intermediaries that are engaged in lending information business and directly provide peers, which can be natural persons, legal persons or other organizations, with lending information services;
“Qudian marketplace” are to the Group’s online marketplace where consumers purchased merchandise offered by third-party merchandise suppliers with the Group’s merchandise credit products;
“RMB” or “Renminbi” are to the legal currency of China;
“small credit products” are to cash or merchandise credit products that are less than RMB5,000 in amount;

1

“Subsidiary” are to an entity controlled by Qudian Inc. and consolidated with Qudian Inc.’s results of operations due to Qudian Inc.’s equity interest in such entity, instead of contractual arrangements; for avoidance of doubt, the Group VIEs are not subsidiaries of Qudian Inc.;
“transaction services business” are to the Group’s business of offering loan recommendation and referral services to third-party financial service providers; the Group assumes no credit risk for the transactions facilitated under the transaction services business; the Group ceased its transaction services business in the third quarter of 2021;
“transactions” are to borrowers’ credit drawdowns from the Group’s platform;
“US$,” “U.S. dollars,” or “dollars” are to the legal currency of the United States;
“vintage” are to the on-balance sheet transactions and off-balance sheet transactions facilitated under the loan book business during a specified time period; and
“we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to Qudian Inc. and/or its subsidiaries, as the context requires.

The translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to Renminbi in this annual report were made at a rate of RMB6.8972 to US$1.00, the exchange rates set forth in the H. 10 statistical release of the Federal Reserve Board on December 30, 2022. We make no representation that the Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts referred to in this annual report could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate or at all. On March 31, 2023, the noon buying rate for Renminbi was RMB6.8676 to US$1.00.

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This annual report on Form 20-F contains statements of a forward-looking nature. All statements other than statements of historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made under the “safe harbor” provision under Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the Group’s actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In some cases, these forward-looking statements can be identified by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “potential,” “continue,” “is/are likely to” or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements relate to, among others:

the Group’s goal and strategies;
the Group’s expansion plans;
the Group’s future business development, financial condition and results of operations;
the Group’s expectations regarding demand for, and market acceptance of, the Group’s products and services;
the Group’s expectations regarding keeping and strengthening its relationships with customers, business partners and other parties the Group collaborates with; and
general economic and business conditions.

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 the Group’s financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs.

2

You should read these statements in conjunction with the risks disclosed in “Item 3.D. Key Information-Risk Factors” of this annual report and other risks outlined in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. Moreover, the Group operates in an emerging and evolving environment. New risks may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of such risks on the Group’s business or the extent to which any risk, or combination of risks, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any 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 any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances 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 have referred to in this annual report, completely and with the understanding that the Group’s actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

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

Contractual Arrangements with the Group VIEs and Their Shareholders

Qudian Inc. is a Cayman Islands holding company, and the Group’s operations are primarily conducted by its subsidiaries in China and through contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs. Investors in our ADSs and Class A ordinary shares do not hold equity interest in the Group’s operating entities in China, but instead hold equity interest in Qudian Inc. As used in this annual report, “Qudian,” “we,” “us,” “our company” or “our” refers to Qudian Inc. and/or its subsidiaries, and “the Group” refers to Qudian Inc., the Group VIEs and their respective subsidiaries.

Under the PRC laws and regulations, the operations of Internet content providers in the PRC are subject to foreign investment restrictions and license requirements. Therefore, we operate such businesses in China through the Group VIEs. Currently, the Group VIEs are (i) Beijing Happy Time, (ii) Ganzhou Qudian and (iii) Xiamen Qudian. We have entered into a series of contractual arrangements with each of the Group VIEs and the respective shareholders of the Group VIEs, including (i) power of attorney agreements and equity interest pledge agreements, which provide us with the power to direct the activities that most significantly impact the economic performance of the Group VIEs; (ii) exclusive business cooperation agreements, which allow us to receive substantially all of the economic benefits from the Group VIEs; and (iii) exclusive call option agreements, which provide us with exclusive options to purchase all or part of the equity interests in or all or part of the assets of or inject registered capital into the Group VIEs when and to the extent permitted by PRC law. As a result of these contractual arrangements, we are the primary beneficiary of the Group VIEs for accounting purposes. We have consolidated their financial results in the Group’s consolidated financial statements. However, we do not own any equity interest in the Group VIEs.

The contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs and the respective shareholders of the Group VIEs may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over the Group VIEs. If any of the Group VIEs or the respective shareholders of the Group VIEs fails to perform their obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. Furthermore, 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. If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to the Group VIEs 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, our ADSs may significantly decline in value or become worthless if we are unable to assert our contractual control rights over the assets of the Group VIEs. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risk Factors⸺Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure.”

3

Operations in China

The Group faces various legal and operational risks and uncertainties associated with being based in and having its operations primarily in China and the country’s complex and evolving laws and regulations. For example, the Group faces risks associated with regulatory approvals on offerings conducted overseas by and foreign investment in China-based issuers, the use of the Group VIEs, anti-monopoly regulatory actions, and oversight on cybersecurity and data privacy, which may impact the Group’s ability to conduct certain businesses, accept foreign investments, or list on a U.S. or other foreign exchange outside of China. In addition, the Chinese government may intervene or influence the Group’s operations at any time. These risks could result in a material adverse change in the Group’s operations and the value of our ADSs and Class A ordinary shares, significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors, or cause the value of such securities to significantly decline or become worthless. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risks Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China.”

Furthermore, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCA Act, may affect our ability to maintain our listing on the NYSE. Among other things, the HFCA Act states that if the SEC determines that we are an issuer that has filed audit reports issued by a registered public accounting firm that has not been subject to inspection for the PCAOB for two consecutive years, the SEC shall prohibit our shares or ADSs from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over-the-counter trading market in the United States. In the event of such determination by the SEC, the NYSE would delist our ADSs. In December 2021, the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, PCAOB made its determinations, or the 2021 determinations, pursuant to the HFCA Act that it was unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China or Hong Kong, including our auditor Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP. After we filed our annual report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 that included an audit report issued by Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP on April 29, 2022, the SEC conclusively identified us as an SEC-identified issuer on May 26, 2022. On December 15, 2022, the PCAOB issued a report that vacated its December 16, 2021 determination and removed mainland China and Hong Kong from the list of jurisdictions where it is unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms. For this reason, we do not expect to be identified as a SEC-identified issuer under the HFCA Act after we file this annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2022. Each year, the PCAOB will determine whether it can inspect and investigate completely audit firms in mainland China and Hong Kong, among other jurisdictions. If PCAOB determines in the future that it no longer has full access to inspect and investigate completely accounting firms in mainland China and Hong Kong and we continue to use an accounting firm headquartered in one of these jurisdictions to issue an audit report on our financial statements filed with the SEC, we would be identified as a SEC-identified issuer following the filing of the annual report on Form 20-F for the relevant fiscal year. There can be no assurance that we would not be identified as a SEC-identified issuer for any future fiscal year, and if we were so identified for two consecutive years, we would become subject to the prohibition on trading under the HFCA Act. See “Item 16I. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections” and “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risks Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺If the PCAOB determines that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely our auditor at any point in the future, our ADSs may be prohibited from trading in the United States under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, as amended, or the HFCA Act, and any such trading prohibition on our ADSs or threat thereof may materially and adversely affect the price of our ADSs and value of your investment.”

PRC Permissions and Approvals

The Group has received all material permissions that are, or may be, required for its operations in China, and no material permission has been denied from the Group by relevant authorities in China. See “Item 4. Information on the Company⸺B. Business Overview-Licenses and Permissions Requirements.” However, the Group is subject to risks relating to the regulatory environment in China. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risk Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations. In addition, rules and regulations in China can change quickly with little advance notice.”

4

Furthermore, the PRC authorities have recently promulgated new or proposed laws and regulations to further regulate securities offerings that are conducted overseas by China-based issuers. For more detailed information, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulations—Regulations on M&A Rules and Overseas Listings”. According to these new laws and regulations and the draft laws and regulations if enacted in their current forms, in connection with our future offshore offering activities, we may be required to fulfill filing, reporting procedures with or obtain approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and may be required to go through cybersecurity review by the PRC authorities. However, we cannot assure you that we can obtain the required approval or accomplish the required filing or other regulatory procedures in a timely manner, or at all. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risks Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺The approval or filing requirement of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, may be required in connection with any future offering we may conduct, and, if required, we cannot predict whether we will be able to obtain such approval or complete such filings” and “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risks Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺The greater oversight by the Cyberspace Administration of China, or the CAC, over data security, particularly for companies seeking to list on a foreign exchange, could adversely impact our business and our offering.”

Cash Transfers within Our Corporate Structure

Our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs conduct business transactions that include intercompany loans and other intercompany transactions related to operating activities, subject to satisfaction of applicable government registration and approval requirements. We have established stringent cash management policies and procedures for cash flows within the Group. Each transfer of funds among our Cayman Islands holding company, our subsidiaries and the VIE is subject to internal approval. In general, transfer of funds is required to be effected through online banking system. Our management is directly supervising cash management. The Group VIE may initiate a cash request by putting forward a cash request plan, which explains the specific amount and timing of cash requested, and submitting it to the finance department. The cashier specialists of our financial department review the cash request and submit it to relevant management personnel for approval according to our internal control procedures. To ensure the liquidity, there is no limit on the amount of cash that can be transferred within our Group. In addition, we monitor our cash balance on a daily basis and conduct periodic review on our cash holdings. The cash flows occurred between our company, our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs are summarized below:

For the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, our company did not provide any capital contribution to our subsidiaries. For the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, the Group VIEs provided loans of RMB488 million, RMB141 million and RMB85 million (US$12 million), respectively, to our subsidiaries, and received repayments of RMB1,051 million, RMB642 million and RMB140 million (US$20 million), respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, our subsidiaries provided loans of RMB1,854 million, RMB410 million and RMB77 million (US$11 million), respectively, to the Group VIEs, and received repayments of RMB322 million, RMB189 million and RMB5 million (US$1 million), respectively.

With respect to other intercompany transactions related to operating activities, our company received cash from our subsidiaries amounted to RMB1,029 million, nil and RMB443 million (US$64 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively, and paid cash to our subsidiaries amounted to RMB553 million, RMB33 million and RMB93 million (US$13 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. The Group VIEs received cash from our subsidiaries amounted to RMB212 million, RMB308 million and RMB32 million (US$5 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively, and repaid cash to our subsidiaries amounted to RMB335 million, RMB942 million and RMB53 million (US$8 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. The Group VIEs received cash from our company amounted to RMB543 million, nil and RMB139 million (US$20 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively, and repaid cash to our company amounted to RMB365 million, RMB150 million and RMB95 million (US$14 million) for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively.

5

We are subject to restrictions on currency exchange. In particular, the PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, currency remittance out of the PRC. Since the Group receives substantially all of its revenues in Renminbi and cash flow will be denominated in Renminbi, any existing and future restrictions on currency exchange may limit the Group’s ability to utilize cash generated in Renminbi to fund the Group’s business activities outside of the PRC or pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of the ADSs, and may limit our ability to obtain foreign currency through debt or equity financing for our PRC subsidiaries and the affiliated consolidated entities. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risk Factors⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺PRC regulation of loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may restrict or prevent us from using the proceeds of our initial public offering to make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and Group VIEs, or to make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries.” In addition, there are certain limitations on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries and the Group VIEs to distribute earnings to our offshore holding companies and the U.S. investors. In particular, each of our PRC subsidiaries, the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries in the PRC are required to set aside at least 10% of its net income each year to fund certain statutory reserves until the cumulative amount of such reserves reaches 50% of its registered capital. These reserves, together with the registered capital, are not distributable as cash dividends. See “Item 3. Key Information⸺D. Risk Factors⸺Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure⸺We rely to a significant extent on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our principal operating subsidiaries to fund offshore cash and financing requirements.”

If any of our subsidiaries incurs debt on its own behalf in the future, the instruments governing such debt may restrict its ability to pay dividends to us.

Since inception, we have not declared or paid any dividends on our shares. We do not have any present plan to declare or pay any dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs in the foreseeable future. We intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to operate and expand our business. See “Item 8. Financial Information⸺A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information⸺Dividend Policy.”

For certain Cayman Islands, PRC and United States federal income tax considerations of an investment in the ADSs and Class A ordinary shares, see “Item 10. Additional Information⸺E. Taxation.”

Financial Schedules Related to the Group VIEs

The tables set forth below the condensed consolidated schedule depicting the results of operations, the financial position and cash flows that disclose the financial information for Qudian Inc., or the Parent Company, the financial information for the subsidiaries of the Parent Company that are not the Group VIEs, the financial information for the Group VIEs, the eliminating adjustments between our Company and the Group VIEs and the consolidated results.

6

Condensed Consolidated Schedule of Results of Operation

    

For the year ended December 31,

2020

2021

2022

    

Parent
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries
 of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

Third-party revenues

 

 

248,062

 

3,532,955

 

(93,043)

 

3,687,974

 

 

550,886

 

1,591,171

 

(488,014)

 

1,654,043

 

 

276

 

577,217

 

 

577,493

Intra-Group revenues(1)

 

 

214,272

 

16,503

 

(230,775)

 

 

 

648

 

9,541

 

(10,189)

 

 

 

128

 

785

 

(913)

Total revenues

 

 

462,334

 

3,549,458

 

(323,818)

 

3,687,974

 

 

551,534

 

1,600,712

 

(498,203)

 

1,654,043

 

 

404

 

578,002

 

(913)

 

577,493

Third-party costs and expenses

 

(84,147)

 

(298,575)

 

(1,447,312)

 

217,801

 

(1,612,233)

 

(45,318)

 

(99,247)

 

(947,955)

 

81,878

 

(1,010,642)

 

(50,254)

 

(7,346)

 

(966,669)

 

23,834

 

(1,000,435)

Intra-Group costs and expenses(1)

 

 

(45,692)

 

(135,105)

 

180,797

 

 

 

(490,060)

 

(648)

 

490,708

 

 

 

(913)

 

 

913

 

Total costs and expenses

 

(84,147)

 

(344,267)

 

(1,582,417)

 

398,598

 

(1,612,233)

 

(45,318)

 

(589,307)

 

(948,603)

 

572,586

 

(1,010,642)

 

(50,254)

 

(8,259)

 

(966,669)

 

24,747

 

(1,000,435)

Operating gain/(loss)

 

(84,147)

 

118,067

 

1,967,041

 

74,780

 

2,075,741

 

(45,318)

 

(37,773)

 

652,109

 

74,383

 

643,401

 

(50,254)

 

(7,855)

 

(388,667)

 

23,834

 

(422,942)

Income (loss) from non-operations

 

628,098

 

(265,671)

 

(1,404,569)

 

(74,780)

 

(1,116,922)

 

(5,128)

 

(194,327)

 

216,364

 

(74,383)

 

(57,474)

 

8,834

 

(91,174)

 

167,065

 

(23,835)

 

60,890

Share of loss in subsidiaries

 

(192,797)

 

192,797

 

 

(292,444)

 

292,444

 

 

(121,865)

 

 

 

121,865

 

Contractual interests in VIEs and VIEs’ subsidiaries(3)

 

607,665

 

(607,665)

 

 

931,964

 

(931,964)

 

 

(198,679)

 

 

 

198,679

 

Net income/(loss)

 

958,819

 

(147,604)

 

562,472

 

(414,868)

 

958,819

 

589,074

 

(232,100)

 

868,473

 

(639,520)

 

585,927

 

(361,964)

 

(99,029)

 

(221,602)

 

320,543

 

(362,052)

7

Condensed Consolidated Schedule of Balance Sheets

    

For the year ended December 31,

2020

2021

2022

    

Parent
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries
 of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

Cash and cash equivalents

 

813,176

 

149,933

 

574,449

 

 

1,537,558

 

558,272

 

123,342

 

1,383,881

 

 

2,065,495

 

559,373

 

230,325

 

2,696,678

 

 

3,486,376

Restricted cash

 

 

128,879

 

6,525

 

 

135,404

 

 

158,332

 

19,593

 

 

177,925

 

 

10,479

 

75,893

86,372

Total current assets

 

813,176

 

1,270,729

 

9,534,136

 

72,435

 

11,690,476

 

758,510

 

1,909,229

 

9,787,359

 

(237,009)

 

12,218,089

 

777,311

 

266,947

 

10,077,616

 

(63,348)

 

11,058,526

Investments in subsidiaries(2)

 

10,178,732

 

 

 

(10,178,732)

 

 

10,850,691

 

 

 

(10,850,691)

 

 

10,406,137

 

 

 

(10,406,137)

 

Total non-current assets

 

 

345,467

 

1,360,689

 

1,400

 

1,707,556

 

 

105,027

 

1,744,115

 

23,895

 

1,873,037

 

 

44,263

 

1,619,592

 

24,054

 

1,687,909

Amounts due from Qudian Inc.

 

 

3,505

 

4,330

 

(7,835)

 

 

 

 

4,330

 

(4,330)

 

 

 

 

3,880

 

(3,880)

 

Amounts due from subsidiaries

 

1,564,134

 

 

1,506,501

 

(3,070,635)

 

 

1,569,605

 

 

1,975,679

 

(3,545,284)

 

 

797,287

 

 

105,833

 

(903,120)

 

Amounts due from VIEs and VIEs’ subsidiaries

 

179,847

 

1,080,556

 

 

(1,260,403)

 

 

25,631

 

889,898

 

 

(915,529)

 

 

70,882

 

11,364

 

 

(82,246)

 

Amounts due from group companies

 

1,743,981

 

1,084,061

1,510,831

(4,338,873)

 

 

1,595,236

889,898

 

1,980,009

(4,465,143)

 

 

868,169

 

11,364

 

109,713

 

(989,246)

 

Total assets

 

12,735,889

 

2,700,257

12,405,656

(14,443,770)

 

13,398,032

 

13,204,437

2,904,154

 

13,511,483

(15,528,948)

 

14,091,126

 

12,051,617

 

322,574

 

11,806,921

 

(11,434,677)

 

12,746,435

Total current liabilities

 

6,206

 

140,961

 

281,482

 

43,959

 

472,608

 

2,021

 

128,276

 

423,523

 

(60,303)

 

493,517

 

5,024

 

55,158

 

584,278

 

(59,530)

 

584,930

Total non-current liabilities

 

822,005

 

881

 

184,761

 

7,933

 

1,015,580

 

681,401

 

 

592,668

 

(200,000)

 

1,074,069

 

 

10

 

118,783

 

 

118,793

Amounts due to Qudian Inc.

 

 

1,564,134

 

179,847

 

(1,743,981)

 

 

 

1,569,605

 

25,631

 

(1,595,236)

 

 

 

797,287

 

70,882

(868,169)

Amounts due to subsidiaries

 

3,505

 

 

1,080,556

 

(1,084,061)

 

 

 

 

 

889,898

 

(889,898)

 

 

 

 

11,364

 

(11,364)

 

Amounts due to VIEs and VIEs’ subsidiaries

 

4,330

 

1,506,501

 

(1,510,831)

 

 

4,330

 

1,975,679

 

 

(1,980,009)

 

 

3,880

 

105,833

 

 

(109,713)

 

Amounts due to group companies

 

7,835

 

3,070,635

 

1,260,403

 

(4,338,873)

 

 

4,330

 

3,545,284

 

915,529

 

(4,465,143)

 

 

3,880

 

903,120

 

82,246

 

(989,246)

 

Total liabilities

 

836,046

 

3,212,477

 

1,726,646

 

(4,286,981)

 

1,488,188

 

687,752

 

3,673,560

 

1,931,720

 

(4,725,446)

 

1,567,586

 

8,904

 

958,288

 

785,307

 

(1,048,776)

 

703,723

8

Condensed Consolidated Schedule of Cash Flows

    

For the year ended December 31,

2020

2021

2022

    

Parent
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries 
of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

    

Parent 
Company

    

Subsidiaries
 of Parent 
Company

    

Group VIEs

    

Elimination

    

Consolidated

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

(RMB in thousands)

Cash flows generated from/(used in) operating activities

 

(223,271)

 

(86,145)

 

2,250,346

 

530,782

 

2,471,712

 

(11,537)

 

1,003,060

 

747,408

 

(816,866)

 

922,065

 

44,844

 

172,649

 

(329,949)

 

373,327

 

260,871

Cash flows (used in)/generated from investing activities

 

1,497,131

 

(135,982)

 

(2,252,530)

 

(2,378,495)

 

(3,269,876)

 

(132,143)

 

(927,961)

 

645,957

 

167,567

 

(246,580)

 

908,576

 

1,240,565

 

489,499

(753,811)

1,884,829

Cash flows generated from/(used in) financing activities

 

(1,522,314)

 

(734,396)

 

(1,429,390)

 

2,094,828

 

(1,591,272)

 

(127,088)

 

(108,221)

 

(571,156)

 

722,273

 

(84,192)

 

(834,991)

 

(701,934)

 

575,110

 

126,824

 

(834,991)

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

84,221

 

106,134

 

571

 

(247,115)

 

(56,189)

 

15,864

 

35,984

 

291

 

(72,974)

 

(20,835)

 

(117,328)

 

(91,304)

 

(26,408)

 

253,660

 

18,620

Net increase/(decrease) in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

(164,233)

 

(850,389)

 

(1,431,003)

 

 

(2,445,625)

 

(254,904)

 

2,862

 

822,500

 

 

570,458

 

1,101

 

619,976

 

708,252

 

 

1,329,329

(1) Represents the intra-group transaction charge under a series of commercial agreements among the our subsidiaries, the Group VIEs and subsidiaries of the Group VIEs.

(2) Represents our investments in our subsidiaries.

(3) Represents the primary beneficiary’s share of income/(loss) generated from the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries.

9

A.[Reserved]

B.Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not Applicable.

C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not Applicable.

D.Risk Factors

Summary of Risk Factors

Investing in our ADSs and Class A ordinary shares involves significant risks. You should carefully consider all of the information in this annual report before making an investment in our ADSs and Class A ordinary shares. Below please find a summary of the principal risks we face, organized under relevant headings.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

The Group is in the process of winding down its credit business, and its revenue has and may continue to decrease significantly.
The Group historically operated its credit business, and it may be subject to penalties or administrative actions if the relevant regulatory authorities considered the Group’s past practice relating to its credit business to be not compliant with the relevant laws and regulations.
We intend to continue to explore new business opportunities, and such new businesses may not deliver the expected benefits.
From time to time the Group may evaluate and potentially consummate strategic investments or acquisitions, which could require significant management attention, disrupt its business and materially and adversely affect its financial results.

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to the Group VIEs 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.
Our contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs may result in adverse tax consequences to the Group.
We rely on contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs and their shareholders to operate the our business, which may be less effective than direct ownership in providing operational control and otherwise have a material adverse effect than to our business.
The shareholders of the Group VIEs may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Our corporate actions will be substantially controlled by our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Min Luo, who will have the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters that require approval of shareholders, which may deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for your ADSs and materially reduce the value of your investment.

10

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

Changes in the political and economic policies of the PRC government may materially and adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations and may result in the Group’s inability to sustain its growth and expansion strategies.
There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations. In addition, rules and regulations in China can change quickly with little advance notice.
The audit report included in this annual report is prepared by an auditor which the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was unable to inspect and investigate completely before 2022 and, as such, our investors have been deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the past, and may be deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the future.
If the PCAOB determines that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely our auditor at any point in the future, our ADSs may be prohibited from trading in the United States under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, as amended, or the HFCA Act, and any such trading prohibition on our ADSs or threat thereof may materially and adversely affect the price of our ADSs and value of your investment.
The opinions on supervision of illegal securities activities issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council may subject us to additional compliance requirements in the future.
The approval or filing requirement of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, may be required in connection with any future offering we may conduct, and, if required, we cannot predict whether we will be able to obtain such approval or complete such filings.
PRC regulations relating to investments in offshore companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC-resident beneficial owners or our PRC subsidiaries to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries or limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits.
Any failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding our employee share incentive plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.
We rely to a significant extent on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our principal operating subsidiaries to fund offshore cash and financing requirements.

Risks Related to Our Ordinary Shares and ADSs

The trading price of our ADSs may be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to you.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could 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.

11

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

The Group is in the process of winding down its credit business, and its revenue has and may continue to decrease significantly.

The Group historically derived substantially all of its revenue from its credit business. After careful evaluation, the Company has decided to cease new credit offerings as of September 6, 2022. As a result of the Group’s decision to cease new credit offerings, there was no outstanding loan balance from the loan book business as of December 31, 2022. As a result, the Group expects its revenue to decline substantially in 2023, compared with 2022.

The Group historically operated its credit business, and it may be subject to penalties or administrative actions if the relevant regulatory authorities considered the Group’s past practice relating to its credit business to be not compliant with the relevant laws and regulations.

The Group historically operated a credit business. The Group has ceased new credit offerings after September 6, 2022 and there was no outstanding loan balance from the Group’s loan book business as of December 31, 2022. The Group’s credit business was subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the PRC that are related to financial services, including consumer finance, small credit, and private lending. The application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are ambiguous, particularly in the evolving online consumer finance industry in which the Group operated, and may be interpreted and applied inconsistently between the different government authorities. As of the date of this annual report, the Group has not been subject to any material fines or other penalties under any PRC laws or regulations as to the Group’s business operations. Nonetheless, if the relevant regulatory authorities determined that the Group’s past practice relating to its credit business was not compliant with the relevant laws and regulations, the Group may be subject to penalties and potential administrative actions.

We intend to continue to explore new business opportunities, and such new businesses may not deliver the expected benefits.

The Group has been exploring new business opportunities. If the Group experiences initial success with a new business, the Group may decide to invest significant amounts of capital to grow the business. We cannot assure you that the Group’s new business initiatives will be successful. For example, the Group is in the process of winding down its budget auto financing business, the Wanlimu e-commerce platform and the QD Food business. The Group had closed all of its Wanlimu education centers in November 2022 and completely wound down its Wanlimu Kids Clubs business in March 2023. The Group may make significant capital expenditures to develop new businesses, and our management’s attention may be diverted. The Group may also incur significant cost to comply with the laws and regulations that apply to such new businesses. Any failure of the Group’s efforts to pursue new business opportunities could have a material adverse effect on the Group’s business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if the Group is unable to identity suitable new business opportunity to persue, the Group may not be able to continue its business.

In addition, the Group may also explore business opportunities overseas. As such, the Group may face risks associated with entering into markets where the Group has limited or no experience, the Group may be less well-known or have fewer local resources and it may need to localize its business practices, culture and operations. The Group may not be able to secure sufficient capital to support its overseas operations. In addition, the Group may incur significant cost to comply with overseas laws and regulations, and it could be subject to penalties for any failure to comply with such laws and regulations. The Group also faces protectionist or national security policies that could, among other things, hinder the Group’s ability to execute its business strategies and put the Group at a competitive disadvantage relative to domestic companies in other jurisdictions. Failure to manage these risks and challenges could negatively affect our ability to explore business opportunities overseas, as well as materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

From time to time the Group may evaluate and potentially consummate strategic investments or acquisitions, which could require significant management attention, disrupt its business and materially and adversely affect its financial results.

We may evaluate and consider strategic investments, combinations, acquisitions or alliances to better serve customers and enhance our competitive position. These transactions could be material to the Group’s financial condition and results of operations if consummated. There can be no assurance that these transactions will offer the expected benefits, and we may suffer significant investment losses as a result of such transactions.

12

We purchased 10,204,082 Class A ordinary shares issued by Secoo Holding Limited (NASDAQ: SECO), or Secoo, for an aggregate consideration of US$100 million in June 2020. Secoo is a large online integrated upscale products and services platform. As of March 31, 2023, we had sold substantially all of the equity interests we previously held in Secoo. The Group may continue to recognize loss from its strategic investments in the future, which could have a material and adverse effect on the Group’s financial condition and results of operations.

If we are able to identify an appropriate business opportunity, we may not be able to successfully consummate the transaction and, even if we do consummate such a transaction, we may be unable to obtain the benefits or avoid the difficulties and risks of such transaction, which may result in investment losses. Strategic investments or acquisitions will involve risks commonly encountered in business relationships, including: difficulties in assimilating and integrating the operations, personnel, systems, data, technologies, products and services of the acquired business;
inability of the acquired technologies, products or businesses to achieve expected levels of revenue, profitability, productivity or other benefits including the failure to successfully further develop the acquired technology;
difficulties in retaining, training, motivating and integrating key personnel;
diversion of management’s time and resources from the Group’s normal daily operations and potential disruptions to the Group’s ongoing businesses;
difficulties in maintaining uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies within the combined organizations;
difficulties in retaining relationships with users, business partners, employees and other partners of the acquired business;
risks of entering markets in which the Group has limited or no prior experience;
regulatory risks, including remaining in good standing with existing regulatory bodies or receiving any necessary pre-closing or post-closing approvals, as well as being subject to new regulators with oversight over an acquired business;
assumption of contractual obligations that contain terms that are not beneficial to the Group, require the Group to license or waive intellectual property rights or increase the Group’s risk for liability;
liability for activities of the acquired business before the acquisition, including intellectual property infringement claims, violations of laws, commercial disputes, tax liabilities and other known and unknown liabilities; and
unexpected costs and unknown risks and liabilities associated with strategic investments or acquisitions.

We may not make any investments or acquisitions, or any future investments or acquisitions may not be successful, may not benefit the Group’s business strategy, may not generate sufficient revenues to offset the associated acquisition costs or may not otherwise result in the intended benefits.

From time to time we may also make financial investments, such as investments in equity securities of other companies, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to realize profits from such investments. We may also engage in corporate restructuring in order to facilitate capital raising and/or incubate new businesses. However, we may fail to obtain such intended benefits.

As the Group is winding down QD Food, it may incur significant write-downs or write-offs, and the Group’s results of operations, financial condition and liquidity may be materially and adversely affected.

The Group launched QD Food business, a ready-to-cook meals business, in March 2022 and the Group is in the process of winding down such business. As a result, the Group expects to incur employee severance costs, termination fees for business partners and inventory write offs, which may adversely affect its financial condition and results of operations.

13

PRC regulation of loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may restrict or prevent us from making loans to our PRC subsidiaries and the Group VIEs, or to make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries.

We, as an offshore holding company, are permitted under PRC laws and regulations to provide funding to our PRC subsidiaries, which are treated as foreign-invested enterprises under PRC laws, through loans or capital contributions. However, loans by us to our PRC subsidiaries to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the local counterpart of State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or the SAFE, and capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries are subject to the requirement of making necessary filings in the Foreign Investment Comprehensive Management Information System, and registration with other governmental authorities in China.

SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming the Administration of Foreign Exchange Settlement of Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or Circular 19, effective on June 1, 2015, in replacement of the Circular on the Relevant Operating Issues Concerning the Improvement of the Administration of the Payment and Settlement of Foreign Currency Capital of Foreign-Invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 142, the Notice from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Relevant Issues Concerning Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Exchange Businesses, or Circular 59, and the Circular on Further Clarification and Regulation of the Issues Concerning the Administration of Certain Capital Account Foreign Exchange Businesses, or Circular 45. According to Circular 19, the flow and use of the RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company is regulated such that RMB capital may not be used for the issuance of RMB entrusted loans, the repayment of inter-enterprise loans or the repayment of banks loans that have been transferred to a third party. Although Circular 19 allows RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested enterprise to be used for equity investments within the PRC, it also reiterates the principle that RMB converted from the foreign currency-denominated capital of a foreign-invested company may not be directly or indirectly used for purposes beyond its business scope. Thus, it is unclear whether SAFE will permit such capital to be used for equity investments in the PRC in actual practice. 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 on June 9, 2016, which reiterates some of the rules set forth in Circular 19, but changes the prohibition against using RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company to issue RMB entrusted loans to a prohibition against using such capital to issue loans to non-associated enterprises. Violations of SAFE Circular 19 and Circular 16 could result in administrative penalties. Circular 19 and Circular 16 may significantly limit our ability to transfer any foreign currency we hold to our PRC subsidiaries, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in the PRC.

Due to the restrictions imposed on loans in foreign currencies extended to any PRC domestic companies, we are not likely to make such loans to any of the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries, each a PRC domestic company. Meanwhile, we are not likely to finance the activities of the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries by means of capital contributions given the restrictions on foreign investment in the businesses that are currently conducted by the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries.

In light of the various requirements imposed by PRC regulations on loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary government registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans to our PRC subsidiaries or any consolidated variable interest entity or future capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiaries. As a result, uncertainties exist as to our ability to provide prompt financial support to our PRC subsidiaries or the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries when needed. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use foreign currency 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.

14

We may need additional capital to pursue business objectives and respond to business opportunities, challenges or unforeseen circumstances, and financing may not be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

Since inception, we have issued equity securities to support the growth of the Group’s business. In addition, we issued US$345 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes in July 2019, and we had repurchased all outstanding convertible senior notes as of December 31, 2022. As we intend to continue to make investments to support the growth of the Group’s business, we may require additional capital to pursue the Group’s business objectives and respond to business opportunities, challenges or unforeseen circumstances, including developing new products and services, further enhancing the Group’s risk management capabilities, increasing the Group’s marketing expenditures to improve brand awareness and diversify the Group’s borrower engagement channels by collaborating with other leading Internet companies, enhancing the Group’s operating infrastructure and acquiring complementary businesses and technologies. Accordingly, we may need to engage in equity or debt financings to secure additional funds. However, additional funds may not be available when we need them, on terms that are acceptable to us, or at all. Repayment of the debts may divert a substantial portion of cash flow to pay principal and interest on such debt, which would reduce the funds available for expenses, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes; and we may suffer default and foreclosure on the Group’s assets if the Group’s operating cash flow is insufficient to repay debt obligations, which could in turn result in acceleration of obligations to repay the indebtedness and limit our sources of financing.

Volatility in the credit markets may also have an adverse effect on our ability to obtain debt financing. If we raise additional funds through further issuances of equity or convertible debt securities, our existing stockholders could suffer significant dilution, and any new equity securities we issue could have rights, preferences and privileges superior to those of holders of our Class A ordinary shares. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing or financing on terms satisfactory to us when we require it, our ability to continue to pursue the Group’s business objectives and to respond to business opportunities, challenges or unforeseen circumstances could be significantly limited, and the Group’s business, operating results, financial condition and prospects could be adversely affected.

Any harm to our brands or reputation or any damage to the reputation of the online consumer finance industry may materially and adversely affect the Group’s business and results of operations.

Enhancing the recognition and reputation of our brands is critical to the Group’s business and competitiveness. Any malicious or otherwise negative allegation made by the media or other parties about the foregoing or other aspects of the Group, including our management, business, compliance with law, financial condition, prospects or the Group’s historical credit business, such as the putative shareholder class action lawsuits that we were involved in, whether with merit or not, could severely hurt our reputation and harm the Group’s business and results of operations. In addition, certain factors that may adversely affect our reputation are beyond our control. Negative publicity about the parties that the Group collaborates with, including negative publicity about any failure by them to adequately protect the information of their users, to comply with applicable laws and regulations or to otherwise meet required quality and service standards, could also harm our reputation or result in negative perception of the products the Group offers. Negative developments in the industry the Group operates in may also lead to tightened regulatory scrutiny of the sector and limit the scope of permissible business activities that may be conducted. If any of the foregoing takes place, the Group’s business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

As the Group winds down Dabai Auto business, revenues generated from such business will decrease, and the Group may record write-downs in relation to the process of winding down such business.

The Group has started to wind down its budget auto financing business in the second quarter of 2019. As a result, revenues generated from the Dabai Auto business will further decrease. Sales income in relation to Dabai Auto business was RMB122.8 million, RMB23.3 million and RMB3.8 million (US$0.6 million) in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. As of December 31, 2022, the Group carried finance lease receivable of RMB1.4 million (US$0.2 million). The decrease in revenues generated from Dabai Auto business and any further write-down that may be recorded during the process of winding down such business may adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

15

The Group’s quarterly results may fluctuate significantly and may not fully reflect the underlying performance of the Group’s business.

The Group’s quarterly results of operations, including the levels of the Group’s total revenues, cost of revenues and operating expenses, net income/(loss) and other key metrics, may vary significantly in the future due to a variety of factors, some of which are outside of our control, and period-to-period comparisons of the Group’s operating results may not be meaningful, especially given the Group’s limited operating history. Accordingly, the results for any one quarter are not necessarily an indication of future performance. Fluctuations in quarterly results may adversely affect the price of our ADSs. Factors that may cause fluctuations in the Group’s quarterly financial results include:

the mix of products the Group offers;
performance of the Group’s businesses;
the timing of expenses related to the development or acquisition of technologies or businesses;
network outages or security breaches;
general economic, industry and market conditions; and
changes in applicable laws and regulations.

In addition, the Group has commenced construction of its innovation park in Xiamen, Fujian Province, and the construction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2023. If the costs and expenses incurred for the construction exceed our planned limits, the Group’s financial results may be negatively affected.

The Group’s success and future growth depend significantly on the Group’s successful marketing efforts, and if the Group is unable to promote and maintain our brands in an effective and cost-efficient way, the Group’s business and financial results may be harmed.

We believe that developing and maintaining awareness of our brands effectively is critical to attracting new and retaining existing customers. Successful promotion of our brands and the Group’s ability to attract customers depend largely on the effectiveness of the Group’s marketing efforts and the success of the channels the Group uses to promote its brands and products. Our efforts to build our brands may cause the Group to incur significant expenses. These efforts may not result in increased revenue in the immediate future or at all and, even if they do, any increases in revenue may not offset the expenses incurred. If the Group fails to successfully promote and maintain our brands while incurring substantial expenses, the Group’s results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected, which may impair the Group’s ability to grow its business.

The Group’s business and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical, and if it contains undetected errors, the Group’s business could be adversely affected.

The Group’s business and internal systems rely on software that is highly technical and complex. In addition, the Group’s business and internal systems depend on the ability of such software to store, retrieve, process and manage large amounts of data. The software on which the Group relies 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 the Group relies may result in a negative experience for users, delay introductions of new features or enhancements, result in errors or compromise our ability to protect user data or the Group’s intellectual property, or affect the accuracy of the Group’s operating data. Any errors, bugs or defects discovered in the software on which the Group relies could result in harm to the Group’s reputation, loss of users, liability for damages, any of which could adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

16

Any significant disruption in the Group’s information technology systems, including events beyond our control, could prevent the Group from offering its products, thereby reduce the attractiveness of the Group’s products and result in a loss of borrowers or institutional funding partners.

In the event of a system outage and physical data loss, the Group’s ability to provide products would be materially and adversely affected. The satisfactory performance, reliability and availability of the Group’s technology and its underlying network infrastructure are critical to the Group’s operations, user service, reputation and the Group’s ability to attract new and retain existing borrowers and institutional funding partners. The Group’s information technology systems infrastructure is currently deployed and the Group’s data is currently maintained on customized cloud computing services in China. The Group’s operations depend on the service provider’s ability to protect its and the Group’s systems in its facilities against damage or interruption from natural disasters, power or telecommunications failures, air quality issues, environmental conditions, computer viruses or attempts to harm the Group’s systems, criminal acts and similar events. Since the launch of the Group’s business, the Group had experienced the system outage during the holiday seasons in China due to competition for available cloud computing services provided by the Group’s service provider and we cannot assure you that such incidents will not occur in the future. Moreover, if the Group’s arrangement with this service provider is terminated or if there is a lapse of service or damage to their facilities, the Group could experience interruptions in its service as well as delays and additional expense in arranging new products for borrowers.

Any interruptions or delays in the Group’s service, whether as a result of third-party error, the Group’s error, natural disasters or security breaches, whether accidental or willful, could harm the Group’s relationships with users and business partners and our reputation. Additionally, in the event of damage or interruption, the Group’s insurance policies may not adequately compensate the Group for any losses that it may incur. The Group also may not have sufficient capacity to recover all data and services in the event of an outage. These factors could prevent the Group from maintaining business operations, damage our brands and reputation, divert the Group’s employees’ attention, reduce the Group’s revenue, subject the Group to liability and cause users to abandon the Group’s products, any of which could adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

Misconduct and errors by the Group’s employees and parties the Group collaborates with could harm the Group’s business and reputation.

The Group is exposed to many types of operational risks, including the risk of misconduct and errors by the Group’s employees and parties that the Group collaborates with. The Group’s business depends on its employees and/or business partners to interact with users and its business may involve the collection and use of personal information. The Group could be materially and adversely affected if personal information was disclosed to unintended recipients or if an operational breakdown occurred, whether as a result of human error, purposeful sabotage or fraudulent manipulation of the Group’s operations or systems. It is not always possible to identify and deter misconduct or errors by employees or business partners, and the precautions the Group takes to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in controlling unknown or unmanaged risks or losses. If any of the Group’s employees or business partners take, convert or misuse funds, documents or data or fail to follow the Group’s rules and procedures when interacting with users, the Group could be liable for damages and subject to regulatory actions and penalties. Any future allegations of employee misconduct, whether perceived or actual, could materially and adversely affect the Group’s reputation and business. The Group could also be perceived to have facilitated or participated in the illegal misappropriation of funds, documents or data, or the failure to follow the Group’s rules and procedures, and therefore be subject to civil or criminal liability. Any of these occurrences could result in the Group’s diminished ability to operate its business, potential liability to users, inability to attract users, reputational damage, regulatory intervention and financial harm, which could negatively impact the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

17

If the Group is unable to protect the confidential information of its users and adapt to the relevant regulatory framework as to protection of such information, the Group’s business and operations may be adversely affected.

The Group collects, store and process certain personal and other sensitive data from its users, which makes the Group an attractive target and potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks, computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins or similar disruptions. While the Group has taken steps to protect the confidential information that it has access to, the Group’s 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, the Group may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventative measures. Any accidental or willful security breaches or other unauthorized access to the Group’s system could cause confidential user information to be stolen and used for criminal purposes. Security breaches or unauthorized access to confidential information could also expose the Group 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 the Group’s technology infrastructure are exposed and exploited, the Group’s relationships with users could be severely damaged, the Group could incur significant liability and its business and operations could be adversely affected. For example, there have been media reports alleging that former employees of the Group have misappropriated and sold borrower data. The Group is not aware of any former employee who has been identified by law enforcement authorities to have engaged in such misconduct, and we do not believe such allegations have had a material impact on the Group’s business. However, future allegations of data breaches, whether perceived or actual, could materially and adversely affect the Group’s reputation and business.

In addition, PRC government authorities have enacted a series of laws and regulations in regard of the protection of personal information, under which internet service providers and other network operators are required to comply with the principles of legality, justification and necessity, to clearly indicate the purposes, methods and scope of any information collection and usage, and to obtain the consent of users, as well as to establish user information protection system with appropriate remedial measures. The Group has obtained the consents from its users to use their personal information within the scope of authorization and the Group has taken technical measures to ensure the security of such personal information and prevent the personal information from being divulged, damaged or lost. However, there is uncertainty as to the interpretation and application of such laws which may be interpreted and applied in a manner inconsistent with the Group’s current policies and practices or require changes to the features of the Group’s system. We cannot assure you that the Group’s existing user information protection system and technical measures will be considered sufficient under applicable laws and regulations. If the Group is unable to address any information protection concerns, or to comply with the then applicable laws and regulations, it may incur additional costs and liability and the Group’s reputation, business and operations might be adversely affected.

If we fail to maintain proper and effective internal controls, our ability to produce accurate financial statements on a timely basis could be impaired.

We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the rules and regulations of the NYSE. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting. We must perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal controls over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting in our Form 20-F filing for each year, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.

As of December 31, 2022, our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting is effective. See “Item 15. Controls and Procedures⸺Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting.” Our independent registered public accounting firm has issued a report, which has concluded that we maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2022.

However, our internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect all errors and all fraud for a variety of reasons. Among others, the Group operates its business in China, an emerging market where the overall internal control environment may not be as strong as in more established markets. In addition, a control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the control system’s objectives will be met. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected.

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If we are unable to maintain proper and effective internal controls, we may not be able to produce timely and accurate financial statements. If that were to happen, the trading price of our ADSs could decline and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the NYSE, SEC or other regulatory authorities.

The Group may not be able to prevent others from unauthorized use of its intellectual property, which could harm its business and competitive position.

We regard the Group’s trademarks, domain names, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property as critical to the Group’s success, and the Group relies on trademark and trade secret law and confidentiality, invention assignment and non-compete agreements with the Group’s employees and others to protect the Group’s proprietary rights. See “Item 4. Information on the Company⸺B. Business Overview-Regulation⸺Regulations Related to Intellectual Property Rights.” However, we cannot assure you that any of the Group’s intellectual property rights would not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, or such intellectual property will be sufficient to provide the Group with competitive advantages. In addition, other parties may misappropriate the Group’s intellectual property rights, which would cause the Group to suffer economic or reputational damages. Because of the rapid pace of technological change, nor can we assure you that all of the Group’s proprietary technologies and similar intellectual property will be patented in a timely or cost-effective manner, or at all. Furthermore, parts of the Group’s business rely on technologies developed or licensed by other parties, or co-developed with other parties, and the Group’s may not be able to obtain or continue to obtain licenses and technologies from these other parties on reasonable terms, or at all.

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 the Group for any such breach. Accordingly, the Group may not be able to effectively protect its intellectual property rights or to enforce the Group’s contractual rights in China. Preventing any unauthorized use of the Group’s intellectual property is difficult and costly and the steps the Group takes may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of its intellectual property. In the event that the Group resorts to litigation to enforce its 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 the Group will prevail in such litigation. In addition, the Group’s trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become available to, or be independently discovered by, our competitors. To the extent that the Group’s employees or consultants use intellectual property owned by others in their work for the Group, disputes may arise as to the rights in related know-how and inventions. Any failure in protecting or enforcing the Group’s intellectual property rights could have a material adverse effect on the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

The Group may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims, which may be expensive to defend and may disrupt its business and operations.

We cannot be certain that the Group’s operations or any aspects of the Group’s business do not or will not infringe upon or otherwise violate trademarks, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies or other intellectual property rights held by other parties. The Group 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 other parties’ trademarks, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies or other intellectual property rights that are infringed by the Group’s products or other aspects of the Group’s business without the Group’s awareness. Holders of such intellectual property rights may seek to enforce such intellectual property rights against the Group in China, the United States or other jurisdictions. If any infringement claims are brought against the Group, the Group may be forced to divert management’s time and other resources from its 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, copyrights, know-how, proprietary technologies 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 the Group were found to have violated the intellectual property rights of others, the Group may be subject to liability for its infringement activities or may be prohibited from using such intellectual property, and it may incur licensing fees or be forced to develop alternatives of its own. As a result, the Group’s business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

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We may continue to repurchase our shares, and such repurchases may be at prices that exceed the trading price of our ADSs. We cannot guarantee that our share repurchase program will enhance long-term shareholder value, and it may fail to deliver the intended benefits.

In January 2020, we announced a share repurchase program, under which we may repurchase up to US$500 million worth of our outstanding ADSs/or ordinary shares over a period of 30 months. In June 2022, we announced a new share repurchase program, under which we may repurchase up to US$200 million worth of our outstanding ADSs/ or ordinary shares over a period of 24 months. Under the new share repurchase program, we are authorized to repurchase our ADSs from time to time through open market transactions at prevailing market prices, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or any combination thereof. Our management is authorized to determine the terms and conditions relating to the program, including, among others, the quantity, timing, price and purpose of share repurchases.

In the future, we plan to continue to make share repurchases, and such repurchases may be at prices that differ from the trading price of our ADSs. For example, upon obtaining approval from our board of directors, we purchased all 18,173,885 of our Class A ordinary shares then held by Kunlun Group Limited, or Kunlun, at a premium to the then prevailing trading price of our ADSs on April 29, 2019. While we believe our share repurchases in the past helped us stabilize share price and promote shareholders’ interests, there can be no assurance that we will achieve the intended benefit of any future share repurchase to enhance value to shareholders.

The Group’s 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.

The Group’s business operations depend on the continued services of our senior management, particularly the executive officers named in this annual report. In particular, Mr. Min Luo, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, is critical to the management of the Group’s business and operations and the development of our strategic direction. 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 replace them easily or at all, the Group’s future growth may be constrained, the Group’s business may be severely disrupted and the Group’s financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected, and we may incur additional expenses to recruit, train and retain qualified personnel. 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 be unable to enforce them at all.

Competition for employees is intense, and the Group may not be able to attract and retain the qualified and skilled employees needed to support the Group’s business.

We believe the Group’s success depends on the efforts and talent of the Group’s employees, including technology and product development, risk management, operation management and finance personnel. The Group’s future success depends on its continued ability to attract, develop, motivate and retain qualified and skilled employees. Competition for highly skilled technical, risk management, operation management and financial personnel is extremely intense. The Group may not be able to hire and retain these personnel at compensation levels consistent with its existing compensation and salary structure. Some of the companies with which the Group competes for experienced employees have greater resources than the Group has and may be able to offer more attractive terms of employment.

In addition, the Group invests significant time and expenses in training the Group’s employees, which increases their value to competitors who may seek to recruit them. If the Group fails to retain its employees, the Group could incur significant expenses in hiring and training their replacements, and the quality of the Group’s services and the Group’s ability to serve borrowers and investors could diminish, resulting in a material adverse effect to the Group’s business.

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Increases in labor costs in the PRC may adversely affect the Group’s business and results of operations.

The economy in China has experienced increases in inflation and labor costs in recent years. As a result, average wages in the PRC are expected to continue to increase. In addition, the Group is required by PRC laws and regulations to pay various statutory employee benefits, including pension, housing fund, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance to designated government agencies for the benefit of the Group’s employees. The relevant government agencies may examine whether an employer has made adequate payments to the statutory employee benefits, and those employers who fail to make adequate payments may be subject to late payment fees, fines and/or other penalties. We expect that the Group’s labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless the Group is able to control its labor costs or pass on these increased labor costs, the Group’s financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

If the Group cannot maintain its corporate culture as it grows, it could lose the innovation, collaboration and focus that contribute to the success of the Group’s business.

We believe that a critical component of the Group’s success is its corporate culture, which we believe cultivates efficiency, fosters innovation, encourages teamwork and embraces changes and development. As the Group develops the infrastructure of a public company and continues to grow, we may find it difficult to maintain these valuable aspects of the Group’s corporate culture. Any failure to preserve the Group’s culture could negatively impact the Group’s future success, including the Group’s ability to attract and retain employees, encourage innovation and teamwork and effectively focus on and pursue the Group’s corporate objectives.

The Group does not have any business insurance coverage.

Insurance companies in China currently do not offer as extensive an array of insurance products as insurance companies in more developed economies. Currently, the Group does not have any business liability or disruption insurance to cover the Group’s operations. We have determined that the costs of insuring for these risks and the difficulties associated with acquiring such insurance on commercially reasonable terms make it impractical for the Group to have such insurance. Any uninsured business disruptions may result in the Group’s incurring substantial costs and the diversion of resources, which could have an adverse effect on the Group’s results of operations and financial condition.

We could be adversely affected by political tensions between the United States and China.

Political tensions between the United States and China have escalated in recent years due to, among other things,

the trade war between the two countries since 2018;
the COVID-19 pandemic;
the PRC National People’s Congress’ passage of Hong Kong national security legislation;
the imposition of U.S. sanctions on certain Chinese officials from China’s central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by the U.S. government, and the imposition of sanctions on certain individuals from the U.S. by the Chinese government;
various executive orders issued by the U.S. government, which include, among others,
the executive order issued in August 2020, as supplemented and amended from time to time, that prohibits certain transactions with ByteDance Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and the respective subsidiaries of such companies;
the executive order issued in November 2020, as supplemented and amended from time to time, including, among others, by an executive order issued in June 2021, that prohibits U.S. persons from transacting publicly traded securities of certain Chinese companies named in such executive order;
the executive order issued in January 2021, as supplemented and amended from time to time, that prohibits such transactions as are identified by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce with certain “Chinese connected software applications,” including Alipay and WeChat Pay;

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the imposition and application of sanction blocking statutes by the Chinese government, including the Rules on Counteracting Unjustified Extra-territorial Application of Foreign Legislation and Other Measures promulgated by the MOFCOM, on January 9, 2021, which will apply to Chinese individuals or entities that are purportedly barred by a foreign country’s law from dealing with nationals or entities of a third country; and
the implementation of comprehensive export controls by the U.S. government to restrict the export of advanced semiconductors and the equipment required to manufacture them to China.

Rising political tensions between China and the U.S. could reduce levels of trades, investments, technological exchanges and other economic activities between the two major economies, which would have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets. The measures taken by the U.S. and Chinese governments may have the effect of restricting our ability to transact or otherwise do business with entities within or outside of China and may cause investors to lose confidence in Chinese companies and counterparties, including us. If the Group was unable to conduct its business as it is currently conducted as a result of such regulatory changes, the Group’s business, results of operations and financial condition would be materially and adversely affected.

Furthermore, the U.S. government has imposed measures regarding limiting or restricting China-based companies from accessing U.S. capital markets, and delisting China-based companies from U.S. national securities exchanges. For further information, see “⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺The audit report included in this annual report is prepared by an auditor which the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was unable to inspect and investigate completely before 2022 and, as such, our investors have been deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the past, and may be deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the future.” In January 2021, after reversing its own delisting decision, the NYSE ultimately resolved to delist China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in compliance with the executive order issued in November 2020, after receiving additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and its Office of Foreign Assets Control. In addition, the NYSE announced in February 2021 that it has determined to commence proceedings to delist CNOOC Limited in light of the same executive order. These delistings have introduced greater confusion and uncertainty about the status and prospects of Chinese companies listed on the U.S. stock exchanges. If any further such deliberations were to materialize, the resulting legislation may have a material and adverse impact on the stock performance of China-based issuers listed in the United States such as us, and we cannot assure you that we will always be able to maintain the listing of our ADSs on a national stock exchange in the U.S., such as the NYSE or the Nasdaq Stock Market, or that you will always be allowed to trade our shares or ADSs.

A severe or prolonged downturn in the Chinese or global economy could affect consumers’ willingness to seek services or products provided by the Group, which could materially and adversely affect the Group’s business and financial condition.

Any prolonged slowdown in the Chinese or global economy may have a negative impact on the Group’s business, results of operations and financial condition. In particular, general economic factors and conditions in China or worldwide may affect consumers’ willingness to seek services or products provided by the Group. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in declines in economic activities in China and other parts of the world and raised concerns about the prospects of the global economy. In addition, 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 also been concerns over conflicts in North Korea, Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa, which have resulted in volatility in financial and other markets. There have also been concerns about the economic effect of the tensions in the relationship between China and surrounding Asian countries, as well as trade tensions between China and the United States. If present Chinese and global economic uncertainties persist, the Group may have difficulty in exploring new business opportunities. Adverse economic conditions could also reduce the number of consumers seeking services or products from the Group. Should any of these situations occur, the Group’s business and financial condition will be negatively impacted. Additionally, continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs.

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The Group’s operations depend on the performance of the Internet infrastructure and fixed 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 MIIT. The Group’s systems infrastructure is currently deployed and the Group’s data is currently maintained on customized cloud computing services. The Group’s cloud computing service provider may rely on a limited number of telecommunication service providers to provide it with data communications capacity through local telecommunications lines and Internet data centers to host its servers. Such service provider may 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 the Group’s business, it may be required to upgrade its technology and infrastructure to keep up with increasing traffic. We cannot assure you that the Group’s cloud computing service provider and the underlying 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 which in turn, may affect the Group’s costs of utilizing customized cloud computing services. If the prices the Group pays for customized cloud computing services rise significantly, the Group’s results of operations may be adversely affected. Furthermore, if Internet access fees or other charges to Internet users increase, the Group’s user traffic may decline and the Group’s business may be harmed.

The Group faces risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could significantly disrupt the Group’s operations.

The Group is vulnerable to natural disasters and other calamities. Fire, floods, typhoons, earthquakes, power loss, telecommunications failures, break-ins, war, riots, terrorist attacks or similar events may give rise to server interruptions, breakdowns, system failures or Internet failures, which could cause the loss or corruption of data or malfunctions of software or hardware as well as adversely affect the Group’s ability to provide its products.

The COVID-19 pandemic has materially and adversely affected the Group’s business, results of operations and financial condition. The Group’s business could also be adversely affected by the effects of Ebola virus disease, H1N1 flu, H7N9 flu, avian flu, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, or other epidemics. The Group’s business operations could be disrupted if any of its employees is suspected of having COVID-19 coronavirus, Ebola virus disease, H1N1 flu, H7N9 flu, avian flu, SARS or other epidemic, since it could require the Group’s employees to be quarantined and/or the Group’s offices to be disinfected. In addition, the Group’s results of operations could be adversely affected to the extent that any of these epidemics harms the Chinese economy in general.

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to the Group VIEs 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.

The PRC government regulates telecommunications-related businesses through strict business licensing requirements and other government regulations. These laws and regulations also include limitations on foreign ownership of PRC companies that engage in telecommunications-related businesses. Specifically, foreign investors are not allowed to own more than a 50% equity interest in any PRC company providing value-added telecommunications services, or VATS, with certain exceptions relating to e-commerce, domestic multi-party, communication, store-and-forward and call center.

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Because we are an exempted company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are classified as a foreign enterprise under PRC laws and regulations, and our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, Ganzhou Qufenqi is a foreign-invested enterprise, or FIE. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we conduct our business, including the provision of VATS, in China through the Group VIEs and their affiliates. Investors in our ADSs may never hold equity interests in these PRC operating companies. Ganzhou Qufenqi has entered into a series of contractual arrangements with the applicable Group VIEs and their shareholders. In addition, pursuant to the resolutions of all shareholders of Qudian Inc. and the resolutions of the board of directors of Qudian Inc., the board of directors of Qudian Inc. or any officer authorized by such board shall cause Ganzhou Qufenqi to exercise its rights under the applicable power of attorney agreements entered into among Ganzhou Qufenqi, the applicable Group VIEs and the nominee shareholders of the applicable Group VIEs and the rights of Ganzhou Qufenqi under the applicable exclusive call option agreements between Ganzhou Qufenqi and the applicable Group VIEs. As a result of these resolutions and the provision of unlimited financial support from the Company to each of the Group VIEs, Qudian Inc. has been determined to be most closely associated with each of the Group VIEs within the group of related parties and was considered to be the primary beneficiary of each of the Group VIEs and its subsidiaries for accounting purposes.

We believe that our corporate structure and contractual arrangements comply with the current applicable PRC laws and regulations. Our PRC legal counsel, based on its understanding of the relevant laws and regulations, is of the opinion that each of the contracts among our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, the Group VIEs and their shareholders is valid, binding and enforceable in accordance with its terms. However, this structure involves unique risks to investors. As there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of PRC laws and regulations, including the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules and the Telecommunications Regulations and the relevant regulatory measures concerning the telecommunications industry, there can be no assurance that the PRC government authorities, such as the Ministry of Commerce, or the MOFCOM, or the MIIT, or other authorities that regulate online consumer finance platforms and other participants in the telecommunications industry, would agree that our corporate structure or any of the above contractual arrangements comply with PRC licensing, registration or other regulatory requirements, with existing policies or with requirements or policies that may be adopted in the future. PRC laws and regulations governing the validity of these contractual arrangements are uncertain and the relevant government authorities have broad discretion in interpreting these laws and regulations.

If our corporate structure and contractual arrangements are deemed by the MIIT or the MOFCOM or other regulators having competent authority to be illegal, either in whole or in part, we may lose control of the Group VIEs and have to modify such structure to comply with regulatory requirements. However, there can be no assurance that we can achieve this without material disruption to our business. Further, if our corporate structure and contractual arrangements are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, the relevant regulatory authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations, including:

revoking the Group’s business and operating licenses;
levying fines on the Group;
confiscating any of the Group’s income that they deem to be obtained through illegal operations;
shutting down the Group’s services;
discontinuing or restricting the Group’s operations in China;
imposing conditions or requirements with which the Group may not be able to comply;
requiring us to change our corporate structure and contractual arrangements;
restricting or prohibiting the use of the proceeds from overseas offering to finance the Group VIEs’ business and operations; and
taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could be harmful to the Group’s business.

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Furthermore, new PRC laws, rules and regulations may be introduced to impose additional requirements that may be applicable to our corporate structure and contractual arrangements. If the imposition of any of these penalties or requirement to restructure our corporate structure causes us to lose the rights to direct the activities of the Group VIEs or our right to receive their economic benefits, we would no longer be able to consolidate the financial results of the Group VIEs in the Group’s consolidated financial statements. Furthermore, if the PRC government determines that our contractual arrangements do not comply with PRC regulations, or if these regulations change or are interpreted differently in the future, our ADSs may decline in value or become worthless, and the Group’s operations would be materially and adversely affected, if we are unable to assert contractual control rights over the assets of the Group VIEs. See “Item 4. Information on the Company⸺B. Business Overview-Overview⸺Our Contractual Arrangements with the Group VIEs and Their Shareholders.”

Our contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs may result in adverse tax consequences to the Group.

The Group could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that our contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs were not made on an arm’s length basis and adjust the Group’s income and expenses for PRC tax purposes by requiring a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could adversely affect the Group by (i) increasing the tax liabilities of the Group VIEs without reducing the tax liability of our subsidiaries, which could further result in late payment fees and other penalties to the Group VIEs for underpaid taxes; or (ii) limiting the ability of the Group VIEs to obtain or maintain preferential tax treatments and other financial incentives.

We rely on contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs and their shareholders to operate the our business, which may be less effective than direct ownership in providing operational control and otherwise have a material adverse effect as to our business.

Qudian Inc. is not a Chinese operating company but a Cayman Islands holding company with operations primarily conducted through contractual arrangements with certain variable interest entities, or the Group VIEs, based in China. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company⸺B. Business Overview⸺Overview⸺Our Contractual Arrangements with the Group VIEs and Their Shareholders.” All of the Group’s revenue are attributed to the Group VIEs. These contractual arrangements may be less effective than direct ownership in providing us with control over the Group VIEs. Investors in our ADSs are not purchasing equity interest in the Group’s operating entities in China, but instead are purchasing an equity interest in Qudian Inc., a Cayman Islands holding company. The Group VIEs are consolidated with our results of operations for accounting purposes. However, we do not own a majority equity interest in the Group VIEs. Furthermore, Qudian Inc., as our holding company, does not conduct operating activities. If the Group VIEs or their shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under these contractual arrangements, our recourse to the assets held by the Group VIEs is indirect and we may have to incur substantial costs and expend significant resources to enforce such arrangements in reliance on legal remedies under PRC law. These remedies may not always be effective, particularly in light of uncertainties in the PRC legal system. Furthermore, in connection with litigation, arbitration or other judicial or dispute resolution proceedings, assets under the name of any of record holder of equity interest in the Group VIEs, including such equity interest, may be put under court custody. As a consequence, we cannot be certain that the equity interest will be disposed pursuant to the contractual arrangement or ownership by the record holder of the equity interest.

All of these contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in the PRC. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC laws and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. However, these contracts have not been tested in the PRC legal procedures. The legal environment in the PRC is not as developed as in 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. In the event that we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant time delays or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, it would be very difficult to have the power to direct the activities that most significantly impact the economic performance of and provide us with economic benefits of the Group VIEs, and our ability to conduct our business and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. See “⸺Risks Related to Doing Business in China⸺There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations. In addition, rules and regulations in China can change quickly with little advance notice.”

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Ganzhou Qudian and Xiamen Qudian became Group VIEs in 2017. Min Luo, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, and Mr. Lianzhu Lv, our head of user experience department, are the only shareholders of Ganzhou Qudian. Mr. Min Luo is the only shareholder of Xiamen Qudian. We believe such shareholding structure will enhance our administrative efficiency and reduce uncertainties associated with the enforcement of the relevant contractual arrangements entered into with the new Group VIEs and their respective shareholder(s). Instead of relying on several shareholders’ compliance with their respective contractual obligations, we will only rely on one or two shareholders’ compliance for each new Group VIE and would only need to enforce against such shareholder(s) in the event of a breach. However, there can be no assurance that the shareholding structure of the new Group VIEs will deliver the expected benefits. If any of the shareholders of the new Group VIEs breaches his obligations under the applicable contractual arrangements, our business, financial condition and results and operations could be materially and adversely affected.

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

In connection with our operations in China, we rely on the shareholders of the Group VIEs to abide by the obligations under such contractual arrangements. The interests of these shareholders in their individual capacities as the shareholders of the Group VIEs may differ from the interests of our company as a whole, as what is in the best interests of the Group VIEs, including matters such as whether to distribute dividends or to make other distributions to fund our offshore requirement, may not be in the best interests of our company. There can be no assurance that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these individuals will act in the best interests of our company or those conflicts of interest will be resolved in our favor. In addition, these individuals may breach or cause the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries to breach or refuse to renew the existing contractual arrangements with us.

Currently, we do not have arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest the shareholders of the Group VIEs may encounter, on one hand, and as a beneficial owner of our company, on the other hand. We, however, could, at all times, exercise our option under the exclusive call option agreement to cause them to transfer all of their equity ownership in the Group VIEs to a PRC entity or individual designated by us as permitted by the then applicable PRC laws. In addition, if such conflicts of interest arise, we could also, in the capacity of attorney-in-fact of the then existing shareholders of the Group VIEs as provided under the power of attorney agreements, directly appoint new directors of the Group VIEs. We rely on the shareholders of the Group VIEs to comply with PRC laws and regulations, which protect contracts and provide that directors and executive officers owe a duty of loyalty to our company and require them to avoid conflicts of interest and not to take advantage of their positions for personal gains, and the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors have a duty of care and a duty of loyalty to act honestly in good faith with a view to our best interests. However, the legal frameworks of China and the Cayman Islands do not provide guidance on resolving conflicts in the event of a conflict with another corporate governance regime. If we cannot resolve any conflicts of interest or disputes between us and the shareholders of the Group 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 corporate actions will be substantially controlled by our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Min Luo, who will have the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters that require approval of shareholders, which may deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for your ADSs and materially reduce the value of your investment.

Mr. Min Luo, our founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, beneficially owns 2,836,200 Class A ordinary shares and all the Class B ordinary shares issued and outstanding, representing 80.1% of our aggregate voting power as of March 31, 2023. As a result, Mr. Min Luo has the ability to control or exert significant influence over important corporate matters, investors may be prevented from affecting important corporate matters involving our company that require approval of shareholders, including:

the composition of our board of directors and, through it, any determinations with respect to the Group’s operations, business direction and policies, including the appointment and removal of officers;
any determinations with respect to mergers or other business combinations;
our disposition of substantially all of the Group’s assets; and
any change in control.

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These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders, including the holders of the ADSs. Furthermore, this concentration of ownership may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could have the dual effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and reducing the price of the ADSs. As a result of the foregoing, the value of your investment could be materially reduced.

If the custodians or authorized users of our controlling non-tangible assets, including chops and seals, fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets, our business and operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Under PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts such as the leases and sales contracts that our business relies on, are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with the relevant local branch of the SAIC. We generally execute legal documents by affixing chops or seals, rather than having the designated legal representatives sign the documents.

We have three major types of chops-corporate chops, contract chops and finance chops. We use corporate chops generally for documents to be submitted to government agencies, such as applications for changing business scope, directors or company name, and for legal letters. We use contract chops for executing leases and commercial contracts. We use finance chops generally for making and collecting payments, including issuing invoices. Use of corporate chops and contract chops must be approved by our legal department and administrative department, and use of finance chops must be approved by our finance department. The chops of our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs are generally held by the relevant entities so that documents can be executed locally. Although we usually utilize chops to execute contracts, the registered legal representatives of our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs have the apparent authority to enter into contracts on behalf of such entities without chops, unless such contracts set forth otherwise.

In order to maintain the physical security of our chops, we generally have them stored in secured locations accessible only to the designated key employees of our legal, administrative or finance departments. Our designated legal representatives generally do not have access to the chops. Although we have approval procedures in place and monitor our key employees, including the designated legal representatives of our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs, the procedures may not be sufficient to prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. There is a risk that our key employees or designated legal representatives could abuse their authority, for example, by binding our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs with contracts against our interests, as we would be obligated to honor these contracts if the other contracting party acts in good faith in reliance on the apparent authority of our chops or signatures of our legal representatives. If any designated legal representative obtains control of the chop in an effort to obtain control over the relevant entity, we would need to have a shareholder or board resolution to designate a new legal representative and to take legal action to seek the return of the chop, apply for a new chop with the relevant authorities, or otherwise seek legal remedies for the legal representative’s misconduct. If any of the designated legal representatives obtains and misuses or misappropriates our chops and seals or other controlling intangible assets for whatever reason, we could experience disruption to our normal business operations. We may have to take corporate or legal action, which could involve significant time and resources to resolve while distracting management from the Group’s operations, and the Group’s business and operations may be materially and adversely affected.

Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to how the 2019 Law of Foreign Investment (including its implementation regulations) may affect our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business and financial condition.

On March 15, 2019, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or SCNPC, promulgated the Law of Foreign Investment of the PRC, or the 2019 Law of Foreign Investment, which became effective on January 1, 2020. On December 26, 2019, the State Council issued the Regulations on Implementing the Law of Foreign Investment of the PRC, which came into effect on January 1, 2020. The 2019 Law of Foreign Investment and its implementation regulations replaced the trio of laws regulating foreign investment in China, namely, the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations.

The 2019 Law of Foreign Investment stipulates four forms of foreign investment, namely, (1) a foreign investor, individually or collectively with other investors, establishes a foreign-invested enterprise within China; (2) a foreign investor acquires stock shares, equity shares, interests in assets, or other like rights and interests of an enterprise within China; (3) a foreign investor, individually or collectively with other investors, invests in a new project within China; and (4) foreign investments in other forms as provided by law, administrative regulations, or by the State Council.

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As mentioned above, the 2019 Law of Foreign Investment and its implementation regulations do not mention concepts including “de facto control” and “controlling through contractual arrangements,” nor does it specify the regulation on controlling through contractual arrangements. Specifically, it does not incorporate contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, the contractual arrangements as a whole and each of the arrangements comprising the contractual arrangements will not be materially affected and will continue to be legal, valid and binding on the parties.

However, the 2019 Law of Foreign Investment stipulates that “foreign investment includes foreign investors invest in China through any other methods under laws, administrative regulations, or provisions prescribed by the State Council,” which means there are possibilities that future laws, administrative regulations or provisions of State Council may stipulate contractual arrangements as a way of foreign investment and our contractual arrangements would be regarded as foreign investment correspondingly. If that is the case, whether our contractual arrangements will be deemed to be in violation of the foreign investment access requirements and how our contractual arrangements will be handled are subject to uncertainties.

Therefore, there is no guarantee that the contractual arrangements and the business of the Group VIEs will not be materially and adversely affected in the future due to changes in PRC laws and regulations. If future laws, administrative regulations or provisions prescribed by the State Council mandate further actions to be completed by companies with existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions timely, or at all.

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

Changes in the political and economic policies of the PRC government may materially and adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations and may result in the Group’s inability to sustain its growth and expansion strategies.

Substantially all of the Group’s operations are conducted in the PRC and all of the Group’s revenue is sourced from the PRC. Accordingly, the Group’s financial condition and results of operations are affected to a significant extent by economic, political and legal developments in the PRC.

The PRC economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the extent of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, and control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the PRC government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets, and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China is still owned by the government. In addition, the PRC government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. The PRC government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth by allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, regulating financial services and institutions and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.

While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth in the past three decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall PRC economy, but may also have a negative effect on the Group. The Group’s financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations that are applicable to the Group. The PRC government also has significant authority to exert influence on the ability of a China-based issuer, such as our company, to conduct its business. The PRC government may intervene or influence the Group’s operations at any time, which could result in a material change in the Group’s operations and/or the value of our ADSs. In particular, there have been recent statements by the PRC government indicating an intent to exert more oversight and control over offerings that are conducted overseas and/or foreign investment in China-based issuers. Any such regulatory oversight or control could significantly limit or completely hinder our ability to offer or continue to offer securities to investors and cause the value of our securities to significantly decline or become worthless. Recent statements and regulatory actions by the PRC government, such as those related to the use of VIEs, data security and anti-monopoly concerns, may give rise to regulatory restrictions on the Group’s ability to conduct its business and/or accept foreign investments. In addition, the PRC government has implemented in the past certain measures to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity, which in turn could lead to a reduction in demand for the Group’s services and consequently have a material adverse effect on the Group’s businesses, financial condition and results of operations.

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There are uncertainties regarding the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws, rules and regulations. In addition, rules and regulations in China can change quickly with little advance notice.

Substantially all of the Group’s operations are conducted in the PRC, and are governed by PRC laws, rules and regulations. Our PRC subsidiaries and the Group VIEs are subject to laws, rules and regulations applicable to foreign investment in China. 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, rules and regulations governing economic matters in general. The overall effect of legislation over the past three decades has significantly enhanced the protections afforded to various forms of foreign investment in China. However, China has not developed a fully integrated legal system, and recently enacted laws, rules and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in China or may be subject to significant degrees of interpretation by PRC regulatory agencies. In particular, because these laws, rules and regulations are relatively new, and because of the limited number of published decisions and the nonbinding nature of such decisions, and because the laws, rules and regulations often give the relevant regulator significant discretion in how to enforce them, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws, rules and regulations involve uncertainties and can be inconsistent and unpredictable. In addition, 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 these policies and rules until after the occurrence of the violation.

Any administrative and court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede the Group’s ability to enforce the contracts it has entered into and could materially and adversely affect the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

The opinions on supervision of illegal securities activities issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council may subject us to additional compliance requirements in the future.

The General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council jointly issued the Opinions on Severely Cracking Down on Illegal Securities Activities According to Law, or the Opinions, which were made available to the public on July 6, 2021. The Opinions emphasized the need to strengthen the administration over illegal securities activities and the supervision on overseas listings by China-based companies. These opinions proposed to take effective measures, such as promoting the construction of relevant regulatory systems, to deal with the risks and incidents facing China-based overseas-listed companies and the demand for data security and cross-border data flows. The aforementioned policies and any related implementation rules to be enacted may subject us to additional compliance requirements in the future. As the official guidance and interpretation of the Opinions still remain unclear in several respects at this time, we cannot assure you that we will remain fully compliant with all new regulatory requirements of the Opinions or any future implementation rules on a timely basis, or at all.

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The approval or filing requirement of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, may be required in connection with any future offering we may conduct, and, if required, we cannot predict whether we will be able to obtain such approval or complete such filings.

On February 17, 2023, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, released the Trial Administrative Measures of Overseas Securities Offering and Listing by Domestic Companies (the “Trial Measures”), and five supporting guidelines, which came into effect on March 31, 2023. Pursuant to the Trial Measures, domestic companies that seek to offer or list securities overseas, both directly and indirectly, should fulfill the filing procedure and report relevant information to the CSRC. See “Regulations⸺Regulation Relating to M&A and Overseas Listings.” However, since the Trial Measures was newly promulgated, its interpretation, application and enforcement remain unclear. If we engage in any future offerings, listing or any other capital raising activities in overseas markets, we may be required to comply with the filing procedure with the CSRC under the Trial Measures, and it is uncertain whether we could complete the filing procedure in a timely manner, or at all. Any failure to complete such filings may subject us to regulatory actions or other sanctions from the CSRC or other PRC regulatory agencies. These regulatory agencies may impose fines and penalties on our operations in China, limit our ability to pay dividends outside of China, limit our operating privileges in China, delay or restrict the repatriation of the proceeds from offering of securities overseas into China or take other actions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, as well as the trading price of our ordinary shares or ADSs.

PRC regulations relating to investments in offshore companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC-resident beneficial owners or our PRC subsidiaries to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries or limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits.

The SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, on July 4, 2014, which replaced the former circular commonly known as “SAFE Circular 75” promulgated by the SAFE on October 21, 2005. SAFE Circular 37 requires PRC residents to register with local branches of the SAFE in connection with their direct establishment or indirect control of an offshore entity, for the purpose of overseas investment and financing, with such PRC residents’ legally owned assets or equity interests in domestic enterprises or offshore assets or interests, referred to in SAFE Circular 37 as a “special purpose vehicle.” SAFE Circular 37 further requires amendment to the registration in the event of any significant changes with respect to the special purpose vehicle, such as increase or decrease of capital contributed by PRC individuals, share transfer or exchange, merger, division or other material event. In the event that a PRC shareholder holding interests in a special purpose vehicle fails to fulfill the required SAFE registration, the PRC subsidiaries of that special purpose vehicle may be prohibited from making profit distributions to the offshore parent and from carrying out subsequent cross-border foreign exchange activities, and the special purpose vehicle may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital into its PRC subsidiary. Moreover, failure to comply with the various SAFE registration requirements described above could result in liability under PRC law for evasion of foreign exchange controls. According to the Notice on Further Simplifying and Improving Policies for the Foreign Exchange Administration of Direct Investment released on February 13, 2015 by the SAFE, local banks will examine and handle foreign exchange registration for overseas direct investment, including the initial foreign exchange registration and amendment registration, under SAFE Circular 37 from June 1, 2015.

Mr. Min Luo has completed the SAFE registration pursuant to SAFE Circular 75 in 2014. We have notified substantial beneficial owners of ordinary shares who we know are PRC residents of their filing obligation. Nevertheless, we may not be aware of the identities of all of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents. We do not have control over our beneficial owners and there can be no assurance that all of our PRC-resident beneficial owners will comply with SAFE Circular 37 and subsequent implementation rules, and there is no assurance that the registration under SAFE Circular 37 and any amendment will be completed in a timely manner, or will be completed at all. The failure of our beneficial owners who are PRC residents to register or amend their foreign exchange registrations in a timely manner pursuant to SAFE Circular 37 and subsequent implementation rules, or the failure of future beneficial owners of our company who are PRC residents to comply with the registration procedures set forth in SAFE Circular 37 and subsequent implementation rules, may subject such beneficial owners or our PRC subsidiaries to fines and legal sanctions. Failure to register or comply with relevant requirements may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital to our PRC subsidiaries and limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to our company. These risks may have a material adverse effect on the Group’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

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

Pursuant to SAFE Circular 37, PRC residents who participate in share incentive plans in overseas non-publicly-listed companies due to their position as director, senior management or employees of the PRC subsidiaries of the overseas companies may submit applications to SAFE or its local branches for the foreign exchange registration with respect to offshore special purpose companies. Our directors, executive officers and other employees who are PRC residents and who have been granted options may follow SAFE Circular 37 to apply for the foreign exchange registration before our company becomes an overseas listed company. After our company became an overseas listed company since the completion of our initial public offering, we and our directors, executive officers and other employees who are PRC residents and who have been granted options have been subject to the Notice on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plan of Overseas Publicly Listed Company, issued by SAFE in February 2012, according to which, employees, directors, supervisors and other management members participating in any stock incentive plan of an overseas publicly listed company who are PRC residents are required to register with SAFE through a domestic qualified agent, which could be a PRC subsidiary of such overseas listed company, and complete certain other procedures. We will continue to make efforts to comply with these requirements. However, there can be no assurance that they can successfully register with SAFE in full compliance with the rules. Failure to complete the SAFE registrations may subject them to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit the ability to make payment under our share incentive plans or receive dividends or sales proceeds related thereto, or our ability to contribute additional capital into our wholly-foreign owned enterprises in China and limit our wholly-foreign owned enterprises’ ability to distribute dividends to us. We also face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional share incentive plans for our directors and employees under PRC law.

We rely to a significant extent on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our principal operating subsidiaries to fund offshore cash and financing requirements.

We are a holding company and rely to a significant extent on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our principal operating subsidiaries and on remittances from the Group VIEs, for our offshore cash and financing requirements, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to our shareholders, fund inter-company loans, service any debt we may incur outside of China and pay our expenses. When our principal operating subsidiaries or the Group VIEs incur additional debt, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions or remittances to us. Furthermore, the laws, rules and regulations applicable to our PRC subsidiaries, Group VIEs and their subsidiaries permit payments of dividends only out of their retained earnings, if any, determined in accordance with applicable accounting standards and regulations.

Under PRC laws, rules and regulations, each of our subsidiaries incorporated in China, the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries is required to set aside at least 10% of its net income each year to fund certain statutory reserves until the cumulative amount of such reserves reaches 50% of its registered capital. These reserves, together with the registered capital, are not distributable as cash dividends. As a result of these laws, rules and regulations, our subsidiaries incorporated in China, the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries are restricted in their ability to transfer a portion of their respective net assets to their shareholders as dividends, loans or advances. Certain of our subsidiaries, the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries did not have any retained earnings available for distribution in the form of dividends as of December 31, 2022. In addition, registered share capital and capital reserve accounts are also restricted from withdrawal in the PRC, up to the amount of net assets held in each operating subsidiary. Furthermore, we intend to reinvest our undistributed earnings from our operating subsidiaries in the PRC to fund future operations.

Limitations on the ability of the Group VIEs to make remittance to the wholly-foreign owned enterprise and on the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us could limit our ability to access cash generated by the operations of those entities, including to make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our businesses, pay dividends to our shareholders or otherwise fund and conduct our business.

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We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, and we may therefore be subject to PRC income tax on our global income.

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementing rules, enterprises established under the laws of jurisdictions outside of China with “de facto management bodies” located in China may be considered PRC tax resident enterprises for tax purposes and may be subject to the PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on their global income. “De facto management body” refers to a managing body that exercises substantive and overall management and control over the production and business, personnel, accounting books and assets of an enterprise. The State Administration of Taxation issued the Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese-Controlled Offshore-Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprises on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies, or Circular 82, on April 22, 2009. Circular 82 provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a Chinese-controlled offshore-incorporated enterprise is located in China. Although Circular 82 only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises, not those controlled by foreign enterprises or individuals, the determining criteria set forth in Circular 82 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 offshore enterprises, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises. If we were to be considered a PRC resident enterprise, we would be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on our global income. In such case, our profitability and cash flow may be materially reduced as a result of our global income being taxed under the Enterprise Income Tax Law. 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.”

Dividends payable to our foreign investors and gains on the sale of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by our foreign investors may become subject to PRC tax.

Under the Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation regulations issued by the State Council, a 10% PRC withholding tax is applicable to dividends payable to investors that are non-resident enterprises, which do not have an establishment or place of business in the PRC or which have such establishment or place of business but the dividends are not effectively connected with such establishment or place of business, to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC. Similarly, any gain realized on the transfer of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors is also subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 10%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in applicable tax treaties or under applicable tax arrangements between jurisdictions, if such gain is regarded as income derived from sources within the PRC. If we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends paid on our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, and any gain realized from the transfer of our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs, would be treated as income derived from sources within the PRC and would as a result be subject to PRC taxation. Furthermore, if we are deemed a PRC resident enterprise, dividends payable to individual investors who are non-PRC residents and any gain realized on the transfer of ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors may be subject to PRC tax at a current rate of 20%, subject to any reduction or exemption set forth in applicable tax treaties or under applicable tax arrangements between jurisdictions. If we or any of our subsidiaries established outside China are considered a PRC resident enterprise, it is unclear whether holders of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares would be able to claim the benefit of income tax treaties or agreements entered into between China and other countries or areas. If dividends payable to our non-PRC investors, or gains from the transfer of our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares by such investors, are deemed as income derived from sources within the PRC and thus are subject to PRC tax, the value of your investment in our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares may decline significantly.

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

On February 3, 2015, the State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, issued the Bulletin on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or Bulletin 7, which partially replaced and supplemented previous rules under the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or SAT Circular 698, issued by the State Administration of Taxation, on December 10, 2009. Pursuant to Bulletin 7, 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 such 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 such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax. According to 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, in respect of which gains from their transfer by a direct holder, being a non-PRC resident enterprise, would be subject to PRC enterprise income taxes. When determining whether there is a “reasonable commercial purpose” of the transaction arrangement, features to be taken into consideration include: whether the main value of the equity interest of the relevant offshore enterprise derives from PRC taxable assets; whether the assets of the relevant offshore enterprise mainly consists of direct or indirect investment in China or if its income mainly derives from China; whether the offshore enterprise and its subsidiaries directly or indirectly holding PRC taxable assets have real commercial nature which is evidenced by their actual function and risk exposure; the duration of existence of the business model and organizational structure; the replicability of the transaction by direct transfer of PRC taxable assets; and the tax situation of such indirect transfer and applicable tax treaties or similar arrangements. In respect of an indirect offshore transfer of assets of a PRC establishment, the resulting gain is to be included with the enterprise income tax filing of the PRC establishment or place of business being transferred, and would consequently be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at a rate of 25%. Where the underlying transfer relates to the immovable properties located in China or to 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 of 10% would apply, subject to available preferential tax treatment under applicable tax treaties or similar arrangements, and the party who is obligated to make the transfer payments has the withholding obligation. Where the payor fails to withhold any or sufficient tax, the transferor is required to declare and pay such tax to the tax authority by itself within the statutory time limit. Late payment of applicable tax will subject the transferor to default interest. Bulletin 7 does not apply to transactions of sale of shares by investors through a public stock exchange where such shares were acquired from a transaction through a public stock exchange. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Relating to Withholding at Source of Income Tax of Non-resident Enterprises, or SAT Circular 37, which was revised on June 15, 2018, to completely repeal SAT Circular 698 and the second paragraph of Section 8 of Bulletin 7. According to SAT Circular 37, the amount of taxable income equals the remainder after deducting the net equity value from the equity transfer income. Equity transfer income means the consideration collected by the transferor from the equity transfer, including income in both monetary form and non-monetary form. Net equity value means the tax basis for acquiring such equity. The tax basis for the equity is the capital contribution costs actually paid by the equity transferor to a PRC resident enterprise at the time of the investment and equity participation, or the equity transfer costs actually paid at the time of acquisition of such equity to the original transferor of such equity.

There is uncertainty as to the application of Bulletin 7 and SAT Circular 37. We face uncertainties as to the reporting and other implications of 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. Our company may be subject to filing obligations or taxed if our company is transferor in such transactions, and may be subject to withholding obligations if our company is transferee in such transactions, under SAT Circular 37 and Bulletin 7. For transfer of shares in our company by investors that are non-PRC resident enterprises, our PRC subsidiaries may be requested to assist in the filing under SAT Circular 37 and Bulletin 7. As a result, we may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with SAT Circular 37 and Bulletin 7 or to request the relevant transferors from whom we purchase taxable assets to comply with these circulars, or to establish that our company should not be taxed under these circulars, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

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We are subject to restrictions on currency exchange.

All of the Group’s net income is denominated in Renminbi. The Renminbi is currently convertible under the “current account,” which includes dividends, trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, but not under the “capital account,” which includes foreign direct investment and loans, including loans we may secure from our onshore subsidiaries or the Group VIEs. Currently, certain of our PRC subsidiaries, may purchase foreign currency for settlement of “current account transactions,” including payment of dividends to us, without the approval of the SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, the relevant PRC governmental authorities may limit or eliminate our ability to purchase foreign currencies in the future for current account transactions. Foreign exchange transactions under the capital account remain subject to limitations and require approvals from, or registration with, the SAFE and other relevant PRC governmental authorities. Since substantially all of the Group’s future net income and cash flow will be denominated in Renminbi, any existing and future restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to utilize cash generated in Renminbi to fund our business activities outside of the PRC or pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs, and may limit our ability to obtain foreign currency through debt or equity financing for our subsidiaries and the Group VIEs.

Fluctuations in exchange rates could result in foreign currency exchange losses and could materially reduce the value of your investment.

The value of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies may fluctuate and is affected by, among other things, changes in political and economic conditions and the monetary or fiscal policies adopted by the PRC government. On July 21, 2005, the PRC government changed its policy of pegging the value of the Renminbi to the U.S. dollar. Following the removal of the U.S. dollar peg, the Renminbi appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar had been stable and traded within a narrow band. In June 2010, the PRC government indicated that it would make the foreign exchange rate of the Renminbi more flexible, which increases the possibility of sharp fluctuations of the Renminbi’s value in the near future and the unpredictability associated with the Renminbi’s exchange rate. Since then, the Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. 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, Renminbi 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 Renminbi has depreciated significantly in the backdrop of a surging U.S. dollar and persistent capital outflows of China. In 2017, however, the RMB appreciated approximately 6.7% against the U.S. dollar. The value of the Renminbi continued to fluctuate in recent years. 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 the 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 the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

All of the Group’s revenue and substantially all of the Group’s costs are denominated in Renminbi. We are a holding company and we rely on dividends paid by our operating subsidiaries in China for our cash needs. Any significant revaluation of Renminbi may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial position reported in Renminbi when translated into U.S. dollars, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, the ADSs in U.S. dollars. To the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars we receive from our initial public offering into Renminbi for the Group’s operations, appreciation of the Renminbi against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the Renminbi amount we would receive. Conversely, if we decide to convert our Renminbi into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs or for other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the Renminbi would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount.

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PRC regulations establish more complex procedures for acquisitions conducted by foreign investors which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions.

The M&A Rules promulgated by six PRC regulatory agencies on August 8, 2006 established new procedures and requirements that could make merger and acquisition activities by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including 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. On February 3, 2011, the General Office of the State Council promulgated the Notice on Launching the Security Review System for Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Security Review Notice, which became effective on March 6, 2011. The M&A Security Review Notice provides for certain circumstances under which foreign investors’ acquisition of domestic enterprises shall be subject to the security review of the PRC governments. The security review assesses such acquisition’s impact on national security, stable operation of national economy, basic living of the people, and R&D capacity for key technologies related to national security. On August 25, 2011, the Ministry of Commerce of PRC promulgated the Regulation of Ministry of Commerce on Implementation of the Security Review System for Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Security Review Regulation, which became effective on September 1, 2011. The M&A Security Review Regulation stipulates the requirements of application documents and security review procedures of the Ministry of Commerce. In the future, we may grow the Group’s business in part by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the M&A Rules, the M&A Security Review Notice and the M&A Security Review Regulation to complete such transactions could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce or its provincial affiliates, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand the Group’s business or maintain the Group’s market share.

The enforcement of the laws on Employment Contracts and other labor-related regulations in the PRC may adversely affect the Group’s business and its results of operations.

On June 29, 2007, the National People’s Congress of China enacted the laws on Employment Contracts, or the Employment Contract Law, which became effective on January 1, 2008, amended on December 28, 2012. The Employment Contract Law established new restrictions and increased costs for employers to dismiss employees, including specific provisions related to fixed-term employment contracts, temporary employment, probation, consultation with the labor union and employee assembly, employment without a contract, dismissal of employees, compensation upon termination and overtime work, and collective bargaining. According to the Employment Contract Law, an employer is obliged to sign a labor contract with an unlimited term with an employee if the employer continues to hire the employee after the expiration of two consecutive fixed-term labor contracts subject to certain conditions or after the employee has worked for the employer for ten consecutive years. The employer also has to pay compensation to an employee if the employer terminates an unlimited-term labor contract. Such compensation is also required when the employer refuses to renew a labor contract that has expired, unless it is the employee who refuses to extend the expired contract or resign. In addition, under the Regulations on Paid Annual Leave for Employees, which became effective on January 1, 2008 and its Implementation Rules on Paid Annual Leave for Employees, which became effective on September 18, 2008, employees who have served more than one year for an employer are entitled to a paid vacation ranging from five to 15 days, depending on their accumulative total length of service. Employers who fail to allow for such vacation time must compensate their employees three times their regular salaries for each vacation day disallowed, unless such employers can provide evidence, such as a copy of a written notice provided to their employees, that suggests the employers made arrangements for their employees to take such annual leaves, but such employees voluntarily waived taking their leaves or such employees waived their right to such vacation days in writing.

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The audit report included in this annual report is prepared by an auditor which the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was unable to inspect and investigate completely before 2022 and, as such, our investors have been deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the past, and may be deprived of the benefits of such inspections in the future.

Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included elsewhere in this annual report, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the U.S. and a firm registered with the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is required by the laws of the U.S. to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess its compliance with the laws of the U.S. and professional standards. According to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law which became effective in March 2020, no overseas securities regulator is allowed to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within the territory of the PRC. Accordingly, without the consent of the competent PRC securities regulators and relevant authorities, no organization or individual may provide the documents and materials relating to securities business activities to overseas parties. In 2021, PCAOB made determinations that the positions taken by PRC authorities prevented the PCAOB from inspecting and investigating firms headquartered in mainland China and Hong Kong completely. On August 26, 2022, the PCAOB signed a Statement of Protocol with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance of the PRC, taking the first step toward opening access for the PCAOB to inspect and investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China and Hong Kong including our auditor. According to its announcement, the PCAOB sent staff to conduct on-site inspections and investigations in Hong Kong from September to November 2022 and conducted inspection field work and investigative testimony in a manner consistent with the PCAOB’s methodology and approach to inspections and investigations in the U.S. and globally. The PCAOB inspections have preliminarily identified numerous deficiencies in the audit firms in China, which are consistent with the types and number of findings the PCAOB has encountered in other first-time inspections around the world, and the final inspection reports is expected to be completed and made public in 2023. If audit firms in China had been subject to such inspections in the past, such deficiencies may have been identified earlier and these audit firms, including our auditor, may have taken remedial measures to address any such deficiencies, and the historical inability of the PCAOB to inspect audit firms in China has deprived our investors of the benefits of such inspections. Because our auditor was not subject to such inspections before 2022, we cannot assure you that it will have sufficient time to fully address any deficiency that may be identified as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct complete inspections of auditors in China before 2022 may have made it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our auditor’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors or potential investors in our ADSs to lose confidence in the quality of our consolidated financial statements.

In addition, while the PCAOB announced in December 2022 that it secured complete access to inspect and investigate registered public accounting firms headquartered in China, we cannot assure you that the PCAOB will continue to have such access in the future. If the PCAOB is not able to inspect and investigate completely auditors in China for any reason, such as any change in the position of the governmental authorities in China in the future, our investors may be deprived of the benefits of such inspections again.

If the PCAOB determines that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely our auditor at any point in the future, our ADSs may be prohibited from trading in the United States under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, as amended, or the HFCA Act, and any such trading prohibition on our ADSs or threat thereof may materially and adversely affect the price of our ADSs and value of your investment.

The HFCA Act was signed into law on December 18, 2020 and amended pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 on December 29, 2022. Under the HFCA Act and the rules issued by the SEC and the PCAOB thereunder, if we have retained a registered public accounting firm to issue an audit report where the registered public accounting firm has a branch or office that is located in a foreign jurisdiction and the PCAOB has determined that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely because of a position taken by an authority in the foreign jurisdiction, the SEC will identify us as a “covered issuer”, or SEC-identified issuer, shortly after we file with the SEC a report required under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or the Exchange Act (such as our annual report on Form 20-F) that includes an audit report issued by such accounting firm; and if we were to be identified as an SEC-identified issuer for two consecutive years, the SEC would prohibit our securities (including our shares or ADSs) from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over-the-counter trading market in the United States.

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In December 2021, the PCAOB made its determinations, or the 2021 determinations, pursuant to the HFCA Act that it was unable to inspect or investigate completely registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China or Hong Kong including our auditor, Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP. After we filed our annual report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 that included an audit report issued by Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP on April 29, 2022, the SEC conclusively identified us as an SEC-identified issuer on May 26, 2022. As such, we are required to satisfy additional disclosure requirement for SEC-identified issuers that are also foreign issuers in this annual report. See “Item 16I. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections.”

Following the Statement of Protocol signed between the PCAOB and the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance of the PRC in August 2022 and the on-site inspections and investigations conducted by the PCAOB staff in Hong Kong from September to November 2022, the PCAOB Board voted in December 2022 to vacate the previous 2021 determinations, and as a result, our auditor, Ernst & Young Hua Ming LLP, is no longer a registered public accounting firm that the PCAOB is unable to inspect or investigate completely as of the date of this annual report or at the time of issuance of the audit report included herein. As such, we do not expect to be identified as an SEC-identified issuer again in 2023. However, the PCAOB may change its determinations under the HFCA Act at any point in the future. In particular, if the PCAOB finds its ability to completely inspect and investigate registered public accounting firms headquartered in mainland China or Hong Kong is obstructed by the PRC authorities in any way in the future, the PCAOB may act immediately to consider the need to issue new determinations consistent with the HFCA Act. We cannot assure you that the PCAOB will always have complete access to inspect and investigate our auditor, or that we will not be identified as an SEC-identified issuer again in the future.

If we are identified as an SEC-identified issuer again in the future, we cannot assure you that we will be able to change our auditor or take other remedial measures in a timely manner, and if we were to be identified as an SEC-identified issuer for two consecutive years, we would be delisted from the NYSE and our securities (including our shares and ADSs) will not be permitted for trading “over-the-counter” either. If our securities are prohibited from trading in the United States, there is no certainty that we will be able to list on a non-U.S. exchange or that a market for our shares will develop outside of the United States. Such a prohibition or any threat thereof would substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so, and the risk and uncertainty associated with delisting would have a negative impact on the price of our ADSs. Also, such a prohibition or any threat thereof would significantly affect our ability to raise capital on terms acceptable to us, or at all, which would have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and prospects. Moreover, the implementation of the HFCA Act and other efforts to increase the U.S. regulatory access to audit information could cause investor uncertainty as to China-based issuers’ ability to maintain their listings on the U.S. national securities exchanges and the market price of the securities of China-based issuers, including us, could be adversely affected.

Additional remedial measures could be imposed on certain PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings instituted by the SEC, as a result of which our financial statements may be determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, if at all.

In December 2012, the SEC brought administrative proceedings against the PRC-based “big four” accounting firms, including the auditors of our audit report in this annual report, alleging that they had violated U.S. securities laws by failing to provide audit work papers and other documents related to certain other PRC-based companies under investigation by the SEC. On January 22, 2014, an initial administrative law decision was issued, censuring and suspending these accounting firms from practicing before the SEC for a period of six months. The decision was neither final nor legally effective until reviewed and approved by the SEC, and on February 12, 2014, the PRC-based accounting firms appealed to the SEC against this decision. In February 2015, each of the four PRC-based accounting firms agreed to a censure and to pay a fine to the SEC to settle the dispute and avoid suspension of their ability to practice before the SEC. The settlement required the firms to follow detailed procedures to seek to provide the SEC with access to such firms’ audit documents via the CSRC. If the firms did not follow these procedures or if there is a failure in the process between the SEC and the CSRC, the SEC could impose penalties such as suspensions, or it could restart the administrative proceedings. Under the terms of the settlement, the underlying proceeding against the four PRC-based accounting firms was deemed dismissed with prejudice for four years after entry of the settlement. The four-year mark occurred on February 6, 2019.

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Pursuant to the HFCA Act, the PCAOB issued a report on December 16, 2021 notifying the SEC of its determination that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely accounting firms headquartered in mainland China or Hong Kong, including the four PRC-based accounting firms. Although the PCAOB Board voted in December 2022 to vacate its previous determination following the Statement of Protocol signed between the PCAOB and the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance of the PRC in August 2022 and the on-site inspections and investigations conducted by the PCAOB staff in Hong Kong, we cannot assure you that the PCAOB will always have complete access to inspect and investigate the four PRC-based accounting firms. See “—If the PCAOB determines that it is unable to inspect or investigate completely our auditor at any point in the future, our ADSs may be prohibited from trading in the United States under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, as amended, or the HFCA Act, and any such trading prohibition on our ADSs or threat thereof may materially and adversely affect the price of our ADSs and value of your investment.” In the event that the PRC-based “big four” accounting firms become subject to additional legal challenges by the SEC or PCAOB, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the U.S. 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 Class A ordinary shares and/or our ADSs may be adversely affected.

If the auditors of our audit report in this annual report independent registered public accounting firm were 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 the Group’s consolidated financial statements, the Group’s consolidated financial statements could be determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to delisting of the ADSs from the NYSE or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the U.S.

The ability of U.S. authorities to bring actions for violations of U.S. securities law and regulations against us, our directors, executive officers or the expert named in this annual report may be limited and therefore you may not be afforded the same protection as provided to investors in U.S. domestic companies.

The SEC, U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and other authorities often have substantial difficulties in bringing and enforcing actions against non-U.S. companies such as us, and non-U.S. persons, such as our directors and executive officers in China. Due to jurisdictional limitations, matters of comity and various other factors, the SEC, DOJ and other U.S. authorities may be limited in their ability to pursue bad actors, including in instances of fraud, in emerging markets such as China. The Group conducts substantially all of its operations in China and substantially all of the Group’s assets are located in China. In addition, a majority of our directors and executive officers reside within China. There are significant legal and other obstacles for U.S. authorities to obtain information needed for investigations or litigation against us or our directors, executive officers or other gatekeepers in case we or any of these individuals engage in fraud or other wrongdoing. In addition, local authorities in China may be constrained in their ability to assist U.S. authorities and overseas investors more generally. As a result, if we have any material disclosure violation or if our directors, executive officers or other gatekeepers commit any fraud or other financial misconduct, the U.S. authorities may not be able to conduct effective investigations or bring and enforce actions against us, our directors, executive officers or other gatekeepers. Therefore, you may not be able to enjoy the same protection provided by various U.S. authorities as it is provided to investors in U.S. domestic companies.

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

The Group may collect personal data while providing products, services and solutions to the Group’s customers. Our reputation may be damaged due to the collection, use, disclosure or security of personal information or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, which will cause the Group to lose users and other customers and adversely affect the Group’s operations. The Group strives to comply with applicable laws and regulations on data protection, as well as the Group’s privacy policies and data protection obligations in accordance with its terms of use and other obligations the Group may have. However, any non-compliance or perceived non-compliance with these laws, regulations or policies may lead to investigations and other lawsuits against the Group by government agencies or other individuals. This will have a negative impact on our reputation and brand image, may cause the Group to lose users and customers, and have a negative impact on the Group’s business. In addition, any system failure or breach of the Group’s privacy policy by the Group’s current or former employees that may compromise of the Group’s security and result in an unauthorized access to or release of the Group’s users’ or other customers’ data could greatly limit the user engagement of the Group’s products and services, harm our reputation and brand image, as well as affect the Group’s business operations.

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PRC government authorities have promulgated laws and regulations to protect personal information from any abuse or unauthorized disclosure. In November 2016, the SCNPC promulgated the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China, or the Cybersecurity Law, which took effect as of June 1, 2017. The Cybersecurity Law is the first special law establishing the overall regulatory regime of personal information protection at the digital age. Since the Cybersecurity Law came into effect, a series of legislative and administrative actions in connection with personal information protection have been taken by the PRC government. The newly adopted legislature includes laws, judicial interpretations, national standards and governmental regulations related to personal information protection, while governmental agencies such as the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State Administration for Market Regulation have taken a series campaigns to enhance and tighten the supervision of collection, usage, storage and transfer practices of personal information by internet service providers. For instance, pursuant to the Order for the Protection of Telecommunication and Internet User Personal Information issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in July 2013, any collection and use of user personal information must be subject to the consent of the user, abide by the principles of legality, rationality and necessity and be within the specified purposes, methods and scopes. Furthermore, the Information Security Technology-Personal Information Security Specification (GB/T 35273-2017), or the Specification, was issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the PRC and the Standardization Administration of the PRC, or the Standardization Administration, on December 29, 2017 and has been replaced by Information Security Technology Personal Information Security Specification (GB/T 35273-2020), or the 2020 Specification, issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation and the Standardization Administration jointly which took effect on October 1, 2020. Pursuant to the Specification, product and service providers should take technical and other necessary measures to ensure the safety of personal information, clearly demonstrate the purpose, approaches and scope of processing the personal information to the individual and acquire the authorization. In addition, according to the 2020 Specification, personal biometric information should be stored separately from personal identity information and in principle, the original personal biometric information should not be stored; besides, it further requires that main function of privacy policy is to disclose the scope and rules of personal information collection and use by the personal information controller, which should not be regarded as a contract signed by the subject of personal information. Furthermore, on August 20, 2021, the SCNPC, promulgated the Personal Information Protection Law of the PRC, or the Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect in November 2021. As the first systematic and comprehensive law specifically for the protection of personal information in the PRC, the Personal Information Protection Law provides, among others, that (i) an individual’s consent shall be obtained to use sensitive personal information, such as biometric characteristics and individual location tracking, (ii) personal information operators using sensitive personal information shall notify individuals of the necessity of such use and impact on the individual’s rights, and (iii) where personal information operators reject an individual’s request to exercise his or her rights, the individual may file a lawsuit with a People’s Court. In particular, in 2019, operators of hundreds of Apps, including many popular and well-known Apps such as Douyu, YY, Meituan and Alipay, have been consulted or ordered by government agencies to rectify their practices of personal information protection; since September 2019, the so-called “big data” companies have caught regulatory attentions for the suspect of illegal collection and abuse of personal information through internet crawling practices, while Hangzhou Moxie Data Technology Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Xinyan Artificial Intelligence Technology Co., Ltd. have even been officially investigated.

As laws and regulations on data protection evolve, the Group’s practices may be deemed to be inconsistent with such laws or regulations. In addition to the potential fines, such non-compliances could result in an order requiring the Group to change its practices, which may adversely affect the Group’s business and operation.

The greater oversight by the Cyberspace Administration of China, or the CAC, over data security, particularly for companies seeking to list on a foreign exchange, could adversely impact our business and our offering.

The regulatory framework for data security in the PRC is rapidly evolving. On June 10, 2021, the SCNPC promulgated the Data Security Law to regulate data processing activities and security supervision in the PRC, which took effect in September 2021.

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On November 14, 2021, the CAC published the Draft Regulations on the Network Data Security Administration (Draft for Comments), or the Security Administration Draft, which provides that data processing operators engaging in data processing activities that affect or may affect national security must be subject to network data security review by the relevant Cyberspace Administration of the PRC. According to the Security Administration Draft, data processing operators who possess personal data of at least one million users or collect data that affects or may affect national security must be subject to network data security review by the relevant Cyberspace Administration of the PRC. The Security Administration Draft also stipulates that a data processor listed overseas must conduct an annual data security review by itself or by engaging a data security service provider and submit the annual data security review report for a given year to the municipal cybersecurity department before January 31 of the following year. If the Security Administration Draft is enacted in the current form, we, as an overseas listed company, will be required to carry out an annual data security review and comply with the relevant reporting obligations. The Security Administration Draft has not been enacted as of the date of this annual report.

On December 28, 2021, the CAC, together with 12 other governmental departments of the PRC, jointly promulgated the Cybersecurity Review Measures, which became effective on February 15, 2022. The Cybersecurity Review Measures provides that, in addition to critical information infrastructure operators, or the CIIOs, that intend to purchase Internet products and services, online platform operators engaging in data processing activities that affect or may affect national security must be subject to cybersecurity review by the Cybersecurity Review Office of the PRC. According to the Cybersecurity Review Measures, online platform operators that possess personal data of at least one million users must apply for a review by the Cybersecurity Review Office of the PRC before conducting listings in foreign countries. However, given the recency of the issuance of the Cybersecurity Review Measures, there is a general lack of guidance and substantial uncertainties exist with respect to their interpretation and implementation. For example, it is unclear whether the requirement of cybersecurity review applies to follow-on offerings by an “online platform operator” that is in possession of personal data of more than one million users where the offshore holding company of such operator is already listed overseas.

On July 7, 2022, CAC promulgated Measures for the Security Assessment of Outbound Data Transfers, which became effective on September 1, 2022 and provide that a data processor is required to apply for security assessment for cross-border data transfer in any of the following circumstances: (i) where a data processor provides critical data to offshore entities and individuals; (ii) where a CIIO or a data processor which processes personal information of more than one million individuals provides personal information to offshore entities and individuals; (iii) where a data processor has provided personal information in the aggregate of more than 100,000 individuals or sensitive personal information of more than 10,000 individuals in total to offshore entities and individuals since January 1 of the previous year; or (iv) other circumstances prescribed by the CAC for which declaration for security assessment for cross-board transfer of data is required. We may be required to declare security assessment if we fall under any of the aforementioned circumstances and our business operations may be restricted according to the regulations above mentioned.

As of the date of this annual report, we have not received any notice from any authorities identifying us as a CIIO or requiring us to go through cybersecurity review or network data security review by the CAC. However, as there remains uncertainty regarding how the Cybersecurity Review Measures and the Measures for the Security Assessment of Outbound Data Transfers will be interpreted, how the Security Administration Draft will be implemented and interpreted, and whether the PRC regulatory agencies, including the CAC, may adopt any other new laws, regulations, rules, or detailed implementation and interpretation related to the Cybersecurity Review Measures and the Security Administration Draft. If any such new laws, regulations, rules, or implementation and interpretation come into effect, we will take all reasonable measures and actions to comply and to minimize the adverse effect of such laws on us. But we cannot guarantee that we will not be subject to cybersecurity review or network data security review in the future. During such reviews, we may be required to suspend our operation or experience other disruptions to our operations. Cybersecurity review and network data security review could also result in negative publicity with respect to our Company and diversion of our managerial and financial resources, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial conditions, and results of operations.

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Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and its implementing rules and how they may impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The VIE structure through contractual arrangements 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. The MOFCOM 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 Foreign Investment Law, and in December 2019, the State Council promulgated the Implementing Rules of Foreign Investment Law, or the Implementing Rules, to further clarify and elaborate the relevant provisions of the Foreign Investment Law. The Foreign Investment Law and the Implementing Rules both became effective from January 1, 2020 and replaced the major previous laws and regulations governing foreign investments in the PRC. Pursuant to the Foreign Investment Law, “foreign investments” refer to investment activities conducted by foreign investors (including foreign natural persons, foreign enterprises or other foreign organizations) 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 Foreign Investment Law and the Implementing Rules do not introduce the concept of “control” in determining whether a company would be considered as a foreign-invested enterprise, nor do they explicitly provide whether the VIE structure would be deemed as a method of foreign investment. However, the Foreign Investment Law has a catch-all provision that includes into the definition of “foreign 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 relevant government authorities may promulgate more laws, regulations or rules on the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the concept of “control” as stated in the 2015 Draft FIL may be embodied in, or the VIE structure adopted by us may be deemed as a method of foreign investment by, any of such future laws, regulations and rules. If any Group 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, financial condition and results of operations. 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, business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Ordinary Shares and ADSs

The trading price of our ADSs may be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to you.

The trading prices of our ADSs have been, and are likely to continue 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 in the market prices or the underperformance or deteriorating financial results of other listed companies based in China. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performances of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including Internet companies, online retail and mobile commerce platforms and consumer finance service providers, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of the Group’s actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards companies that have major operations based in China in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. Furthermore, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to the Group’s operating performance, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China and other jurisdictions in late 2008, early 2009, the second half of 2011 and in 2015, which may have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.

In addition to the above factors, the price and trading volume of our ADSs may be highly volatile due to multiple factors, including the following:

regulatory developments affecting the Group’s or its industry;

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announcements of studies and reports relating to the quality of the Group’s product offerings or those of our competitors;
changes in the economic performance or market valuations of other consumer finance service providers;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in the Group’s quarterly results of operations and changes or revisions of the Group’s expected results;
changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts;
conditions in the market for consumer finance services;
announcements by us or our competitors of new product and service offerings, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures, capital raisings or capital commitments;
additions to or departures of our senior management;
fluctuations of exchange rates between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar;
release or expiry of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding shares or ADSs; and
sales or perceived potential sales of additional Class A ordinary shares or ADSs.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our ADSs will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or the Group’s business. If research analysts do not establish and maintain adequate research coverage or if one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our ADSs or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about the Group’s business, the market price for our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, 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 the Group’s 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.

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, the Group’s future results of operations and cash flow, the Group’s 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.

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Substantial future sales or perceived potential sales of our ADSs in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.

Sales of our ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our ADSs to decline significantly. The total number of ordinary shares outstanding as of March 31, 2023 was 224,898,926, comprising 161,407,754 Class A ordinary shares and 63,491,172 Class B ordinary shares. All outstanding ADSs representing our Class A ordinary shares are freely transferable by persons other than our “affiliates” without restriction or additional registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. All of the other ordinary shares outstanding are available for sale, subject to volume and other restrictions as applicable under Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act. We cannot predict what effect, if any, market sales of securities held by our significant shareholders or any other shareholder or the availability of these securities for future sale will have on the market price of our ADSs.

If we fail to maintain compliance with the continued listing requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, our ADSs may be delisted and the liquidity and the trading price of our ADSs could be materially and adversely affected.

We fell below the continued listing requirements of the New York Stock Exchange in the past. In particular, we were notified by the NYSE in February, May and September 2022, of our company’s non-compliance with the continued listing standard because the average closing price of our ADSs was less than US$1.00 per ADS over a consecutive 30 trading-day period. We have subsequently regained compliance with NYSE’s continued listing criteria regarding the price of the ADSs following each such notice. We cannot assure you, however, that the trading prices of our ADSs will not fall below NYSE’s continued listing standard again in the future, nor that we will always be able to maintain compliance with the other continued listing requirements of the NYSE. Should we fail to comply with any of the NYSE’s continued listing requirements and fail to regain compliance during any cure period that may be allowed by the NYSE, our ADSs may be delisted from the NYSE, and the liquidity and the trading price of our ADSs could be materially and adversely affected.

You, as holders of ADSs, may have fewer rights than holders of our ordinary shares and must act through the depositary to exercise those rights.

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under our second amended and restated articles of association, the minimum notice period required to convene a general meeting will be 10 days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit you to withdraw your Class A ordinary shares to allow you to cast your vote with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to you or carry out your voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to you in a timely manner, but there can be no assurance that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may lack recourse if your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.

Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act or exempt from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective and we may not be able to establish a necessary exemption from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings in the future and may experience dilution in your holdings.

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You may not receive cash dividends if the depositary decides it is impractical to make them available to you.

The depositary will pay cash dividends on the ADSs only to the extent that we decide to distribute dividends on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities, and we do not have any present plan to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. See “Item 8. Financial Information-A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information-Dividend Policy” To the extent that there is a distribution, the depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities 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 may, at its discretion, decide that it is inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, the depositary may determine that it is not practicable to distribute certain property through the mail, or that the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may decide not to distribute such property to you.

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 transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it 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.

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

We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. We conduct the Group’s operations outside the United States and substantially all of the Group’s assets are located outside the United States. In addition, substantially all of our directors and executive officers and the experts named in this annual report reside outside the United States, and most of their assets 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 them 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, China or other relevant jurisdiction may render you unable to enforce a judgment against the Group’s assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

There is no statutory recognition in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the United States, although the Cayman Islands will generally recognize as a valid judgment, a final and conclusive judgment in personam obtained in the federal or state courts in the United States under which a sum of money is payable (other than a sum of money payable in respect of multiple damages, taxes or other charges of a like nature or in respect of a fine or other penalty), or, in certain circumstances, an in personam judgment for non-monetary relief, and would give a judgment based thereon provided that (i) such courts had proper jurisdiction over the parties subject to such judgment; (ii) such courts did not contravene the rules of natural justice of the Cayman Islands; (iii) such judgment was not obtained by fraud; (iv) the enforcement of the judgment would not be contrary to the public policy of the Cayman Islands; (v) no new admissible evidence relevant to the action is submitted prior to the rendering of the judgment by the courts of the Cayman Islands; and (vi) there is due compliance with the correct procedures under the laws of the Cayman Islands. There is uncertainty as to whether a judgment obtained from the United States courts under the civil liability provisions of the securities laws will be determined by the courts of the Cayman Islands as penal or punitive in nature. If such a determination is made, the courts of the Cayman Islands will not recognize or enforce the judgment against a Cayman Islands company. Because the courts of the Cayman Islands have yet to rule on whether such judgments are penal or punitive in nature, it is uncertain whether they would be enforceable in the Cayman Islands.

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The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedure Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedure Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. Under PRC law, a foreign judgment, which does not otherwise violate basic legal principles, state sovereignty, safety or social public interest, may be recognized and enforced by a PRC court, based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. As there existed no treaty or other form of reciprocity between China and the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan or most other western countries governing the recognition and enforcement of judgments as of the date of this annual report, including those predicated upon the liability provisions of the United States federal securities laws, recognition and enforcement in China of judgments of a court in any of these jurisdictions may be difficult or impossible. In addition, you may not be able to bring original actions in China based on the U.S. or other foreign laws against us, our directors, executive officers or the expert named in this annual report either. As a result, shareholder claims that are common in the U.S., including class action securities law and fraud claims, are difficult or impossible to pursue as a matter of law and practicality in China. Therefore, you may not be able to effectively enjoy the protection offered by the U.S. laws and regulations that intend to protect public investors.

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 limited by shares incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Law, Cap. 22 (Law 3 of 1961, as consolidated and revised) of the Cayman Islands 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 duties 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 duties 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 have 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.

Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under the second amended and restated memorandum and 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 resolution or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.

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. The Companies Law is modeled after that of England and Wales but does not follow recent statutory enactments in England. In addition, the Companies Law differs from laws applicable to United States corporations and their shareholders.

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Our second amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could discourage a third party from acquiring us, which could limit our shareholders’ opportunity to sell their shares, including Class A ordinary shares represented by our ADSs, at a premium.

We have adopted the second amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, which became effective immediately prior to the completion of our initial public offering that 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. For example, our board of directors has 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 Class A 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 Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, our second amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain other provisions that could limit the ability of third parties to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in a transaction resulting in a change of control, including a provision that entitles each Class B ordinary share to 10 votes in respect of all matters subject to a shareholders’ vote.

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.

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 U.S. domestic public companies.

Because we qualify as 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 with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;
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 the Group’s results on a quarterly basis as 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 compared to 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.

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As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the NYSE corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the NYSE corporate governance listing standards.

As a Cayman Islands company listed on the NYSE, we are subject to the NYSE corporate governance listing standards. However, the NYSE market rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the NYSE corporate governance listing standards.

For instance, we are not required to:

have a majority of the board be independent (although all of the members of the audit committee must be independent under the Exchange Act);
have a compensation committee or a nominating and corporate governance committee consisting entirely of independent directors;
obtain shareholders’ approval for issuance of securities in certain situations;
hold annual shareholders meetings; or
have regularly scheduled executive sessions with only independent directors each year.

We have relied on and intend to continue to rely on all of these exemptions. As a result, you may not be provided with the benefits of certain corporate governance requirements of the NYSE.

There is a significant risk that we will be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, which could result in adverse United States tax consequences to United States investors.

The determination of whether we are a PFIC is made on an annual basis and will depend on the composition of our income and assets from time to time. Specifically, for any taxable year, we will be classified as a PFIC for United States federal income tax purposes if either (i) 75% or more of our gross income in that taxable year is passive income or (ii) at least 50% of the value (generally determined based on a quarterly average) of our assets in that taxable year is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. For this purpose, passive income generally includes dividends, interest, royalties and rents (other than royalties and rents derived in the active conduct of a trade or business and not derived from a related person). The calculation of the value of our assets will be based, in part, on the quarterly market value of our ADSs, which is subject to change. See “Item 10. Additional Information⸺E. Taxation⸺Certain United States Federal Income Tax Considerations-Passive Foreign Investment Company.”

Based on the past and projected composition and classification of the Group’s income and assets, we believe there is a significant risk that we were classified as a PFIC for United States federal income tax purposes for 2022 and will be a PFIC for the current taxable year, and that we may be classified as a PFIC for future taxable years. Our PFIC status for future taxable years will depend, in part, on the nature of any new business opportunities that we pursue, and whether the income and assets attributable to any such new business would be considered passive for purposes of the PFIC rules.

If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which you hold our ADSs or Class A ordinary shares, our PFIC status could result in adverse United States federal income tax consequences to you if you are a United States Holder, as defined under “Item 10. Additional Information-E. Taxation-Certain United States Federal Income Tax Considerations.” For example, if we are a PFIC, you may become subject to increased tax liabilities under United States federal income tax laws and regulations, and will become subject to burdensome reporting requirements. See “Item 10. Additional Information⸺E. Taxation⸺Certain United States Federal Income Tax Considerations-Passive Foreign Investment Company.”

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We will continue to incur increased costs as a result of being a public company.

As a U.S. public company, we incur 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 New York Stock Exchange, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. These rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. 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. For example, as a result of becoming a public company, we have increased the number of independent directors and adopted policies regarding internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. We also expect that operating as a public company will continue to make it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. In addition, we incur additional costs associated with our public company reporting requirements. It may also be more difficult for us to find qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers.

ITEM 4.INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

A.History and Development of the Company

The Group was founded in April 2014 and operated its business through Beijing Happy Time Technology Development Co., Ltd., or Beijing Happy Time. The Group initially operated its business by facilitating credit solutions to college students on campuses across China. In November 2015, the Group shifted its focus to a broader base of young consumers in China, and the Group terminated its on-campus business.

In September 2016, Qufenqi (Ganzhou) Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Ganzhou Qufenqi, was incorporated as a wholly foreign owned entity in China. In November 2016, we incorporated Qudian Inc. under the laws of the Cayman Islands as our offshore holding company, and subsequently, we established a wholly-owned subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands, QD Technology Limited, in November 2016, and a wholly-owned subsidiary in Hong Kong, QD Data Limited, to be our intermediate holding company in December 2016, to facilitate our initial public offering in the United States. The entire equity interest of Ganzhou Qufenqi was transferred from its former holding company to QD Data Limited. As a result of the restructuring in 2016, we hold equity interest in Ganzhou Qufenqi through our current offshore structure. At the same time, Ganzhou Qufenqi entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing Happy Time and its shareholders. In addition, pursuant to the resolutions of all shareholders of Qudian Inc. and the resolutions of the board of directors of Qudian Inc., the board of directors of Qudian Inc. or any officer authorized by such board will cause Ganzhou Qufenqi to exercise its rights under such contractual arrangements. As a result of these resolutions and the provision of unlimited financial support from the Company to Beijing Happy Time, Qudian Inc. has been determined to be most closely associated with Beijing Happy Time within the group of related parties and was considered to be the primary beneficiary of Beijing Happy Time and its subsidiaries for accounting purposes.

Ganzhou Qudian and Xiamen Qudian became Group VIEs in 2017. We have entered into a series of contractual arrangements with each new Group VIE and its shareholders, which allows us to have the power to direct the activities that most significantly impact the economic performance of each new Group VIE and realize substantially all of the economic risks and benefits arising from such new Group VIE. The contractual arrangements for each Group VIE, including those as to the new Group VIEs, contain substantively identical provisions that afford us, through our wholly-owned subsidiary Ganzhou Qufenqi, the right to control all of the Group VIEs in the same manner and degree. Mr. Min Luo, our founder, chairman and chief executive officer, and Mr. Lianzhu Lv, our head of user experience department, are the only shareholders of Ganzhou Qudian. Mr. Min Luo is the only shareholder of Xiamen Qudian. We believe such shareholding structure will enhance our administrative efficiency and reduce uncertainties associated with the enforcement of the relevant contractual arrangements entered into with the Group VIEs and their respective shareholder(s). Instead of relying on several shareholders’ compliance with their respective contractual obligations, we will only rely on one or two shareholders’ compliance for each Group VIE and would only need to enforce against such shareholder(s) in the event of a breach. The establishment of any of these Group VIEs is not intended to, and will not, have an adverse impact on the rights of our ADS holders. For more information, see “Item 3. Key Information on the Company⸺D. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure⸺We rely on contractual arrangements with the Group VIEs and their shareholders to operate our business, which may be less effective than direct ownership in providing operational control and otherwise have a material adverse effect than to our business.”

We currently conduct business in China mainly through the Group VIEs and their subsidiaries.

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Hunan Qudian Technology Development Co., Ltd., or Hunan Qudian, became a VIE of the Group in 2017. In January 2021, we completed the dissolution of Hunan Qudian and terminated the contractual arrangements with Hunan Qudian and its shareholders. Xiamen Weipujia Technology Co., Ltd., or Xiamen Weipujia, became a Group VIEs in 2018. In April 2022, we completed the dissolution of Xiamen Weipujia and terminated the contractual arrangements with Xiamen Weipujia and its shareholders. Xiamen Qu Plus Plus Technology Development Co., Ltd., or Xiamen Qu Plus Plus, became a Group VIE in 2019. In December 2022, we completed the dissolution of Xiamen Qu Plus Plus and terminated the contractual arrangements with Xiamen Qu Plus Plus and its shareholders.

Our principal executive offices are located at Tower A, AVIC Zijin Plaza, Siming District, Xiamen, Fujian Province 361000, People’s Republic of China, and our telephone number is +(86) 592 591 1580. Our website address is www.qudian.com. The information on our website does not form a part of this annual report. The SEC also maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy statements and other information regarding registrants that file electronically with the SEC. Our annual report and some of the other information submitted by us to the SEC may be accessed through this web site.

B.Business Overview

Overview

The Group is a consumer-oriented technology company in China. The Group historically focused on providing credit solutions to consumers. The Group has been exploring new business opportunities to promote long-term value for its shareholders.

The Group historically operated a loan book business, whereby the Group offered small credit products to consumers and undertook the related credit risk. The Group has ceased new credit offerings since September 6, 2022. As of December 31, 2022, there was no outstanding loan balance from the Group’s loan book business.

The Group historically generated (i) financing income, loan facilitation income and other related income and guarantee income from cash credit products, (ii) sales income from the QD Food business, (iii) financing income and sales commission fee from merchandise credit products and (iv) transaction services fee and other related income from the Group’s transaction services business. The Group historically generated sales income from merchandise sales on the Wanlimu e-commerce platform, which the Group is in the process of winding down. In addition, the Group historically offered budget auto financing products, from which the Group generated sales income and financing income. The Group started to wind down its budget auto financing business in the second quarter of 2019.

The Group’s total revenues decreased from RMB3,688.0 million in 2020 to RMB1,654.0 million in 2021, and decreased to RMB577.5 million (US$83.7 million) in 2022. The Group recorded net income of RMB958.8 million, RMB585.9 million and net loss of RMB362.1 million (US$52.5 million) in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Credit Business

The Group historically operated a credit business. The Company has decided to cease new credit offerings since September 6, 2022 and, as of December 31, 2022, there was no outstanding balance from the Group’s loan book business.

Loan Book Business

Small Credit Products

Under the Group’s loan book business, the Group offered small cash credit products to consumers and undertook the related credit risk. Users accessed the Group’s small credit products through the Group’s mobile apps.

The Group’s cash credit products comprised short-term, unsecured lines of credit that could be drawn down at any time, subject to the Group’s approval at the time of each drawdown request. Borrowers were typically charged financing service fees for cash credit drawdowns.

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Historically, the Group also offered merchandise credit products to finance borrowers’ direct purchase of merchandise offered on the Qudian marketplace on installment basis. The Qudian marketplace connected consumers with merchandise suppliers. The Group neither sold merchandise nor held inventory for the Qudian marketplace. Customers accessed the Qudian marketplace through mobile apps. Only customers with approved merchandise credit limits could make purchases, and the Group required a minimum amount of each purchase to be funded by utilizing the Group’s credit product. Borrowers were typically charged financing service fees for merchandise credit drawdowns. The Group also earned sales commission fee from its merchandise suppliers for the intermediary services rendered.

The terms of the credit products were clearly stated in the electronic borrowing agreements borrowers entered into with the Group upon drawdowns:

Installments. Borrowers were generally required to make fixed weekly or monthly payments. The combined total represented the loan principal and financing service fees charged to borrowers.
Durations. Durations of cash credit products typically ranged from one to 18 months.
Penalty fee. A penalty fee for late payment was clearly disclosed in the agreement and was imposed as a daily penalty rate of the amount past due.
Repayment method. Repayments were made through the borrower’s specified digital account.

Budget Auto Financing Products

The Group historically offered budget auto financing products in the form of sales-type finance leases and vehicle sales with guarantee under the Dabai Auto brand. The Group started to wind down its budget auto financing business in the second quarter of 2019.

In the case of sales-type finance leases, the Group purchased cars on its inventory and leased them to creditworthy car buyers. Each car buyer was required to make a down payment and pay installments throughout the term of the lease. The legal title of the car was transferred to the car buyer upon full repayment. In the case of vehicle sales with guarantee, the Group sold vehicles to buyers and provided loan facilitation services to funding partners who provided financing to the vehicle buyers. The buyer obtained control of the vehicle when the borrower physically possessed the vehicle and when the Group received cash consideration for the vehicle from the buyer. The Group received recurring service fees from the financial institution for the Group’s loan facilitation services and post-origination services throughout the term of the loan. In addition, the Group provided a guarantee on the principal and accrued interest repayments of the defaulted loans to the financial institution.

Transaction Services Business

In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Group launched an open platform for transaction services business. The transaction services business allowed the Group to monetize its user base and mitigate its credit risk exposure. The Group performed credit assessment on users applying for credit on its platform, following which the Group referred users that met the Group’s credit requirements to licensed institutional funding partners that participated on the platform. The Group received commissions from the institutional funding partners for such referrals. The Group ceased to provide transaction services through its open platform in the third quarter of 2021.

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Funding

Historically, the Group collaborated with institutional funding partners to fund transactions under the loan book businessand the transaction services business. While the Group bore credit risk for transactions under the loan book business, the Group did not bear credit risk for transactions under the transaction services business. In 2022, the Group funded all transactions on its platform with its own capital.

The table below sets forth a breakdown by funding sources for total amount of transactions in the periods presented:

    

Year Ended December 31,

2020

2021

2022

RMB

RMB

RMB

US$

(in thousands)

On-balance sheet transactions:

 

  

    

  

    

  

    

  

Credit drawdowns that were funded by institutional funding partners

 

611,751

 

 

 

Credit drawdowns funded through trusts(1)

 

611,751

 

 

 

Credit drawdowns that were funded by the Group’s own capital

 

17,683,191

 

14,636,497

 

3,955,465

 

573,489

Total on-balance sheet transactions

 

18,294,942

 

14,636,497

 

3,955,465

 

573,489

Off-balance sheet transactions

 

97,879

 

128,368

 

 

Transactions under the loan book business

 

18,392,821

 

14,764,865

 

3,955,465

 

573,489

Transactions under the transaction services business

 

4,020,778

 

352,402

 

 

Total

 

22,413,599

 

15,117,267

 

3,955,465

 

573,489

(1)

Excludes credit drawdowns funded by the Group’s own capital through trusts.

The table below sets forth a breakdown by funding sources, as a percentage of the amount of transactions, in the periods presented

    

Year Ended December 31,

2020

2021

2022

%

On-balance sheet transactions: