Yichen Rao

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Hong Kong, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9856

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Rao, Yichen (Hong Kong, U. of) "Surviving the ruins of hope: Life under China's P2P financial collapses and trust restoration"

YICHEN RAO, then a graduate student at University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, was awarded funding in April 2019 to aid research on “Surviving the Ruins of Hope: Life under China’s P2P Lending Crisis,” supervised by Dr. Gonçalo Santos. In the past ten years, Chinese people of different social strata swarmed into the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending industry as lenders and borrowers. Meanwhile, stories circulated across the media about desperate investors who lost their life’s savings on these lending platforms, many of which turned out to be Ponzi schemes. This ethnographic research presents a failed-yet-influential social experiment of digital finance in the world’s largest developing economy. By following the stories of lenders/investors, borrowers, industry employees and regulators, this research seeks to answer: 1) What are the market mechanisms and regulatory patterns that produce the rise and fall of China’s P2P lending or “internet finance” industry and the financial inclusion experiment? 2) What do the industry participants think, feel and dream about along their work, investment, and borrowing trajectories? What financial subjectivities are produced in this financial inclusion experiment? 3) How are “credit,” “risks,” and “crises” constructed and interpreted by different parties during the expansion and collapses of the P2P platforms? How do different people react to, live with, and reflect upon the “crisis” and the continuous collapses of P2P platforms as partially intervened by the government?