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From 1st paper currency to world success story

By Zhao Yanrong in Beijing and Li Yu in Chengdu  (China Daily)

09:03, March 01, 2013

There are 60 banking institutions, including those from overseas, operating in Chengdu, which has been designated as a financial center in Southwest China by the State Council, China's cabinet. Provided to China Daily

Southwestern city cements status as a financial innovation pioneer

As a financial innovation pioneer, Chengdu has, in many ways, been the springboard for the growth of the modern financial services industry in China.

But some industry experts point out that the city has played an important role in shaping the modern financial services industry by being the birthplace of the first paper currency in the world, the jiao zi, introduced in 1023 during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then and the city, also famed for its pandas, today ranks prominently alongside peers such as Beijing and Shanghai in attracting foreign investment.

The State Council, China's cabinet, ranks Chengdu as the financial center of Southwest China. The city is the premier destination in central and western China for foreign-funded banks, insurance companies and listed companies, and leads all other cities in western China in terms of financial transactions.

In 2012, more international financial institutions started operating their western China branches in Chengdu, such as South Korean-owned Woori Bank and Cathay Insurance from Taiwan.

There are 60 banking institutions, 69 insurance agencies and 57 securities and futures firms based in Chengdu, the Chengdu Daily reported.

According to the Chengdu government's financial office, some international banks set up liaison offices in the city in the late 1990s, and most of the financial institutions, especially international insurance companies, have opened branches in Chengdu in the past five years.

"More and more multinational corporations are opening their branches in Chengdu, and the number of foreign financial institutions in the city is also increasing," said Ren Ruihong, head of banking and insurance at the local government's financial work office.

A total of 233 Fortune 500 companies operated in Chengdu last year, 26 more than in 2011.

Though most international financial organizations initially came to Chengdu to meet clients' requirements, many are now attracted there by the city's robust and fully operational international financial services system.

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