English: Cloze Test for Upcoming Exams – Set 122

Directions: In the passage given below there are 10 blanks. Every blank has A PAIR of four alternative words given in options (A),(B),(C), and (D). You have to tell which pair is APPROPRIATE according to the context. If all are appropriate then mark your answer as “E”.

The shift to digital payments ____1____ with the arrival of smartphones, bought by many Chinese who had never owned a personal computer. Today 95% of China’s internet users go online via mobile devices. Alipay, the payments arm of Alibaba, an e-commerce giant, soon became the mobile wallet of choice. But it quickly faced a challenge, when Tencent, a gaming-to-messaging company, launched a payment function in its wildly popular WeChat phone app, tapping its 500m-strong user base. Baidu, China’s main search engine, followed with its own wallet.

Competition has ____2____ a stream of innovations, especially in the way mobile apps can connect online to face-to-face retail transactions. QR codes, the matrix-like bar codes that generally failed to catch on in the West, have become ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants and shops. Users simply open WeChat or Alipay, scan a QR code and make a payment. And phones themselves can serve as payment cards: with another click, users display their own bar codes, which shopkeepers then scan. And it is as easy for people to send money to each other as it is to send a text message—a ____3_____ improvement over the bricks of cash that used to change hands.

Many of the payment functions within WeChat or Alipay exist elsewhere in the world, but in disaggregated form: Stripe or PayPal for online shops processing payments; Apple Pay or Android Pay for those using their phones as wallets; Facebook Messenger or Venmo for friends transferring money. In China all these different functions have been combined onto single platforms. Adoption is ____4____. For about 425m Chinese, or 65% of all mobile users, phones act as wallets, the world’s highest penetration rate, according to China’s ministry of industry and information technology. Mobile payments hit 38trn yuan ($5.5trn) last year, up from next to nothing five years earlier—and more than 50 times the size of the American market.

A second area where China has become the global leader is online lending. In most countries, banks overlook small borrowers. This problem is especially ____5____ in China. State-owned banks dominate the financial system, with a preference for lending to state-owned companies. The absence of a mature system for assessing consumer credit-risk adds to banks’ reluctance to lend to individuals. Grey-market lenders such as pawn shops provide financing but at ____6____ interest rates.

Fintech has started to fill this gap. E-commerce was again the launch-pad: online shopping platforms developed loan services, and are using their customers’ transactions and ____7____ information to create credit scores. (How the government might eventually harvest data for social control is cause for concern, but for now lenders are merely trying to master the basics of credit ratings.) Shoppers on Alibaba and JD.com, China’s two biggest e-commerce portals, can conveniently borrow small amounts, typically less than 10,000 yuan. According to Ant Financial (Alibaba’s financial arm, spun out in 2014), 60% of borrowers in this category had never used a credit card. On their platforms, Ant and JD.com also lend to merchants, many of whom are the kinds of small businesses long ignored by banks.

However, e-commerce lending is intrinsically____8____. Its targets are clients already well-known to the big shopping platforms. For the more radical side of China’s online lending, look instead at the explosion of peer-to-peer (P2P) credit. From just 214 P2P lenders in 2011, there were more than 3,000 by 2015 (see chart 2). Initially free from regulatory oversight, P2P soon ____9____ into China’s financial Wild West, brimming with frauds and dangerous funding models. More than a third of all P2P firms have already shut down.

Yet P2P lenders still have a big role to play in China. Despite a string of headline-grabbing collapses, the industry has continued to grow. Outstanding P2P loans increased 28-fold from 30bn yuan at the start of 2014 to 850bn yuan today. The online lenders answer a basic need, like China’s grey-market lenders of old, but in modern garb and, thanks to all the competition, offering credit at lower interest rates.

In other countries, P2P firms typically lend to clients online and obtain funding from institutional investors. The most successful lenders in China flip that approach on its head. Because of the lack of consumer credit ratings, they ____10____ borrowers in person. Lufax, China’s biggest P2P firm, operates shops—more than 500 in 200 cities—for loan applicants. And for funding, Chinese P2P firms draw almost entirely on retail investors. More than 4m people invest on P2P platforms, up by a third over the past year. The platforms can then divide loans into small chunks, parcelling them out to investors to disperse risks.

  1. hurried, retarded
    quickened, laggard
    accelerated, hastened
    expedited, languid
    All are correct
    Option C

     

  2. sparked, activated
    caused, flared
    twinkled, aroused
    actuated, glimmered
    All are correct
    Option E

     

  3. enormous, great
    vast, gigantic
    immense, huge
    massive, tremendous
    All are correct
    Option B

     

  4. general, concentrated
    prevailing, restricted
    widespread, mainstream
    extensive, specific
    All are correct
    Option C

     

  5. keen, slow
    penetrating, minor
    severe, obtuse
    acute, astute
    All are correct
    Option D

     

  6. usurious, outrageous
    avaricious, selfish
    steep, generous
    exorbitant, affordable
    All are correct
    Option A

     

  7. visceral, public
    specific, shared
    subjective, mutual
    personal, privy
    All are correct
    Option D

     

  8. courageous, hasty
    sassy, impetous
    cautious, prudent
    brave, impulsive
    All are correct
    Option C

     

  9. changed, equable
    altered, clarified
    morphed, transformed
    substituted, standardised
    All are correct
    Option C

     

  10. veteran, colt
    scrutinize, cub
    inspect, novice
    vet, check
    All are correct
    Option D

     



 

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