Ant Group Should Serve as a Lesson for Other Online Tech Giants: China’s Banking Regulator

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China’s top banking regulator has called for other Internet giants to take heed of the difficulties recently endured by Jack Ma’s fintech platform Ant Group, as authorities step up the pressure on the online finance sector.

A senior official from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said to Diyi Caijing on 31 December that Ant Group’s problems were not “individual” in nature but instead “commonplace,” and recommended that “all Internet platforms make reference and engage in self-inspection, as well as rectify in advance.”

“This is especially [the case] for organisations that are involved with online micro-loans, insurance, wealth management, trust and other operations,” said the CBIRC official.

2020 was an extremely challenging and tumultuous year for both Jack Ma and his Ant Group fintech platform, with regulators stepping up the pressure on China’s online lending sector.

Chinese regulators issued strict new rules for online micro-lending at the start of November, then scuppered Ant Group’s IPO on the Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses that was originally scheduled for 5 November, and expected to raise a record-breaking USD$34.4 billion.

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 Jack Ma’s e-commerce platform Alibaba “in response to reports.”

Chinese regulators subsequently summoned Ant Group for another round of regulatory discussions on 26 December, demanding that the company return to a focus on its original payments operations, as well as establish a financial holding company to deal with its multifarious operations.

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