Founded in May 2012 by SUN Haitao, a serial entrepreneur, 51 Credit Card started with a credit card bill management app 51 Credit Card Manager, which is the first of its kind in China according to the company citing a report by consulting firm Oliver Wyman. It then gradually branched out to other finical services revolving around credit cards including online loan and wealth management.
As of December 31, 2017, the company reports 810 million registered users across its apps. The flagship 51 Credit Card Manager app manages 106.3 million credit cards issued by various Chinese and foreign banks, handling a payment of RMB108.5 billion (approx. $ 17.2 billion) as of last year-end.
In terms of revenue, the company has managed to make a profit in the past two years. In 2017, 51 Credit Card generated RMB 2.27 billion (approx. $ 358.7 million) in revenue, almost quadrupled the number in 2016. Meanwhile, its net profit stood at RMB 744 million (approx. $117.6 million) in 2017, up nearly 1304% from RMB 53 million (approx. $ 8.4 million) in 2016.
The company becomes a unicorn startup in September 2016 after raising $ 310 million in a Series C round according to CB Insights. Just one month later, 51 Credit Card banked another $ 84 million, adding its total funding to around $509.94 million, according to data by Jing Data, a Chinese startup data service provider. Investors in the company include JD.com, Xiaomi, GGV Capital, SIG, and Meridian Capital China.
According to the Oliver Wyman report, China has 587.5 active credit cards as of December 31, 2017. The country expects to see the number grow to 1 bill by the end of 2021. In China, the use of credit cards is comparatively lower than its western counterparts, as each Chinese owns on average 0.6 credit card while in the US the number stands at 2 credit cards per capita.