China's fintech stocks buoyed by Beijing's digital currency push

SHANGHAI, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Shares of China’s fintech firms are soaring as investors prepare for the imminent launch of Beijing’s digital currency and the demand it would generate for security and payment services.

The CSI fintech theme index, an index tracking major financial technology firms, has gained more than 50% so far in 2019, far outperforming the broader market.

Among the big gainers are Beijing Certificate Authority , which mainly provides electronic authentication services; its share price hit a record high this month after having soared nearly 200% this year. 360 Security Technology Inc , China’s biggest network security services provider, has seen its shares jump more than 50%.

Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments department, said in August China is “almost ready” to issue its own sovereign digital currency, that the proposed new digital currency would bear some similarities to Facebook’s Libra coin and could be used across major payment platforms such as WeChat and Alipay.

Investors have rushed to buy into fintech firms this month despite no clarity on when Beijing will launch its digital currency. Yi Gang, the central bank governor, has said the PBOC does not have a timetable for rolling it out.

“We believe the PBOC would probably continue to use the current infrastructure of commercial banks, while the most important carrier of personal digital currency would be mobile phones,” Soochow Securities noted in report.

The brokerage said the digital currency related industry chains would include circulation operation service providers, banking IT service providers and core service providers of e-wallets.

Reporting by Luoyan Liu and John Ruwitch Editing by Jacqueline Wong