Chinese fintech giant Ant Group has withdrawn its online deposit products just a little over a month following the shock cancellation of its long-awaited IPO on the Hong Kong and Shanghai bourses.
Ant Group’s Alipay platform no longer stocks online deposit products, with the only products still visible to users being those previously purchased, according to a report from Beijing Business Today on 18 December.
Ant Group said that the removal of the products is a response to requirements from Chinese regulators in relation to the standardisation of the online deposit sector, and that products currently held by clients will not be affected.
The move comes following the shelving of Ant Group’s Shanghai and Hong Kong IPO, which was originally scheduled for 5 November and expected to raise a record-breaking USD$34.4 billion.
Domestic analysts believe that the suspension was likely motivated by efforts to tighten regulation of online micro-loans in China, following the collapse of the country’s once flourishing P2P lending sector due to widespread fraud issues.
On 2 November – the same date that authorities announced that Ant executives had been summoned for “regulatory discussions” – the Chinese central bank and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) jointly issued the draft version of the “Online Micro-loan Operations Provisional Administrative Measures” (网络小额贷款业务管理暂行办法（征求意见稿）), which impose far tighter restrictions on online lending operations.