Empowerment of Grassroots Consumers: A Revelatory Case of a Chinese FinTech Innovation

Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Forthcoming

56 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2020

See all articles by Tianhui Tan

Tianhui Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Ying Zhang

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Information Systems

Cheng-Suang Heng

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Chunmian Ge

South China University of Technology

Date Written: March 29, 2020

Abstract

Recent year have witnessed the emergence of Financial Technology (FinTech) innovations as a promising resolution to financial exclusion, via mechanisms that empower the financially underprivileged to gain access rights into the traditional financial industry. However, academic research has provided little guidance on how to strategize the IT-enabled empowerment mechanisms for FinTech innovations to realize both business success and financial inclusion. In this study, we conduct an in-depth revelatory case study on a novel Chinese FinTech innovation, Yu’E Bao, the bellwether in revolutionizing the country’s financial industry dramatically through the successful empowerment of a large population of financially underprivileged (i.e., “grassroots consumers”, translated from “cao gen” in Chinese). Through our systematic qualitative analyses of news articles collected since the product launch, we derive a two-stage theoretical model, examined through the lens of “empowerment”, and unravel the mechanisms underlying FinTech innovation’s empowerment process on grassroots consumers. Most importantly, we elucidate a “duality of empowerment”, that is, the catalyst for Yu’E Bao’s success soon becomes the impediment to Yu’E Bao’s further development. Our study contributes to the literature on Information Technology-enabled (IT-enabled) empowerment, empowerment, and FinTech. Critical implications to various stakeholders, such as government and policy makers, as well as FinTech practitioners and product designers are also drawn.

Keywords: Qualitative method, IT-enabled empowerment, grassroots consumers, FinTech, emerging market

Suggested Citation

Tan, Tianhui and Zhang, Ying and Heng, Cheng-Suang and Ge, Chunmian, Empowerment of Grassroots Consumers: A Revelatory Case of a Chinese FinTech Innovation (March 29, 2020). Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3563373

Tianhui Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

15 Computing Drive
Singapore, Singapore 117418
Singapore

Ying Zhang

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Information Systems ( email )

13 Computing Drive
117417
Singapore

Cheng-Suang Heng

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

15 Computing Drive
Singapore, Singapore 117418
Singapore

Chunmian Ge (Contact Author)

South China University of Technology ( email )

School of Business Administration
South China University of Technology
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510640
China

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/gechunmian/

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