Fintech giant Ant Group has unveiled a prompt response to the launch of an anti-trust investigation into the business practices of its e-commerce affiliate Alibaba and the holding of an official meeting with China’s financial regulators.
Ant Group engaged in discussions with China’s financial authorities on 26 December and agreed to establish a “rectification work team and comprehensively implement the demands of the discussions,” according to an announcement made by Ant via its official WeChat account on 27 December.
“Ant Group will actively make reference to and implement regulatory demands, and firmly abide by its original [purpose] of servicing the real economy and the masses,” said the announcement.
“[It will] abide by the principles of the market and rule of law, improve corporate governance, clear out related operations and mechanisms, increase its legal and regulatory awareness and level, expand the vigour and scope of opening and joint victory, strengthen consumer rights protections, and comprehensively raise the compliance level and social responsibility awareness of business operations.”
Ant Group said that it had already started to formulate a “rectification plan and work timetable,” and would “promptly seek regulatory guidance during [this] process.”
“We will use this opportunity to shore up the foundations of the company’s compliant growth, and use the development of fintech to help increase financial services efficiency and inclusion, as well as continually raise international competitiveness and make a strong contribution to the establishment of a new dual circulation development condition.”
On 24 December the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced via its official website the launch of an investigation into suspected monopolistic conduct by Alibaba.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), being the Chinese central bank, also announced that it had summoned Ant Group for “regulatory discussions” with a slew of other top regulators, including the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
Pan Gongsheng (潘功胜), PBOC deputy governor and director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), said at a subsequent press conference that Chinese regulators have demanded that Ant Group “return to its payment origins,” and said that in the past the company had “regarded regulatory compliance demands with disdain.”