Six Chinese brokerage firms are poised to start online securities and assets management after approval from authorities, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday.
According to operation drafts scrutinized by the Securities Association of China (SAC), the brokerages will establish online payment and investment accounts for each client, as well as an account for normal stock transactions.
The payment account is designed for online purchase, and the investment account will allow brokerages to promote products via the web, with higher yields than fixed deposits. A fresh profit model should emerge as the three accounts, especially investment, allow brokers into more lucrative fields, weaning themselves off dependency on commissions.
At present brokers can only run offline accounts for stock transactions with settled funds in third party custody (usually banks) after China's stock regulator deprived them of the custody rights in 2007.
The pilot is a breakthrough for brokerage houses that will regain custody rights, although only of funds exclusively for online investment.
Stock analyst Yu Fenghui expects brokerage firms to shift their priority to assets management and financial investment, ridding themselves of reliance on commissions.
China's brokerage firms earned over 75 billion yuan (12 billion U.S. dollars) from commissions in 2013, nearly half their total revenue. Sealand Securities relied on commissions for 55 percent of its income last year.