Xiaomi Co-Founder Steps Down as Chairman of Financial Arm

Xiaomi recently announced in an internal email that it appointed Alain Lam, vice president and CFO of the group, to serve as the chairman of Airstar Digital Technology, the financial arm of the group, reporting to Xiaomi‘s CEO Lei Jun, according to Sina Tech‘s report on September 9.

The chairman of Airstar Digital Technology had been Hong Feng, Xiaomi‘s co-founder and senior vice president. The new personnel change means that Hong will no longer be in charge of Xiaomi‘s finance business, which he founded.

Before joining Xiaomi, Hong was a senior software engineer at Google and a senior product manager at Google China, where he was responsible for the company’s Calendar and 3D street view for Maps projects in addition to Google’s Chinese music service. Because of his product development experience at Google, Hong was put in charge of Xiaomi‘s MIUI operating system.

Since 2015, Hong has built up Xiaomi‘s financial business, which has developed rapidly in a short period of time due to its dependence on MIUI users. In the past few years, Xiaomi has successively won several financial licenses, such as online small loans, third-party payments, private banking, consumer finance, virtual banking, insurance brokerage, financing guarantees, commercial factoring and so on.

In 2018, Xiaomi disclosed in its prospectus that it would integrate its financial business to form an independent financial group. Xiaomi Finance changed its name to Xiaomi Digital Technology in 2019 and then Airstar Digital Technology in 2020. Hong Feng served as the chairman and CEO at that time.

However, in the process of the company’s rapid development, a number of P2P platforms promoted by Xiaomi‘s financial products were the targets of some negative news which resulted in Airstar Digital Technology becoming a target of consumer rights’ protection organizations.

In addition, regulatory policies in the financial sector have become more strict in recent years, and Xiaomi has also begun to adjust the structure and business of its financial arm. In 2021, Xiaomi appointed Alain Lam as the CEO of Airstar Digital Technology who was reporting to Hong Feng.

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In February, news emerged that Airstar Digital Technology was scaling back its operations and laying off employees. The company responded that, based on the principle of focus on its main business and serving for real economy, in the fourth quarter of 2021, it adjusted its organizational structure. Several lines of business were integrated into the digital industry finance department and digital retail banking credit department. The latter consists of department of credit science and technology, comprehensive business, payment and international business.