China Postal Group has applied to start offering insurance services, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing state media. It is an indication of the efforts being made by China to develop a financial industry through the country's postal network, which is the principal bank for million living in rural areas. According to the application made to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Postal Group will run the business on its own, which means it could emerge as a potential rival to the existing insurance joint venture the postal authority has with Paris-based CNP Assurances. In March, the post office's deposit-taking arm was separated from the standard mail services to create the China Postal Savings Bank. It is the country's fifth-largest lender by number of outlets. Other rural-focused financial reforms include the restructuring of Agricultural Bank of China, the modernization of the rural credit cooperatives and the wider implementation of micro-finance projects.