The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) says that Jack Ma’s Ant Group has taken further measures in response to pressure from regulators for it to overhaul its business practices.
PBOC deputy-governor Chen Yulu (陈雨露) said that Ant Group has already established a rectification work team with the guidance of financial regulatory authorities.
Chen made the remarks at a press conference held on 15 January.
According to Chen Ant Group is “currently in the process of formulating a rectification timetable and maintaining the continuity of operations and regular enterprise operations, to ensure the quality of the financial services is provides to the public.”
“Financial regulatory authorities are maintaining close regulatory contact with Ant Group, and relevant work developments will be promptly announced.”
Jack Ma’s e-commerce and fintech empire has come under heavy pressure from Chinese regulators over the past several months, prompting a withdrawal from public appearances by Ma himself which has led to much speculation in the press over his current whereabouts.
At the start of November Chinese regulators scuppered Ant Group’s dual listing on the Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses, which was originally scheduled for 5 November and expected to raise a record-breaking USD$34.4 billion.
By mid-December Ant Group withdrew from sale of new online deposit products in response to increasing pressure from authorities.
On 24 December the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced via its official website the launch of an investigation into monopolistic conduct by Jack Ma’s e-commerce platform Alibaba, while PBOC also summoned Ant Group for a second round of “regulatory discussions.”
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 demanded that Ant Group “return to its payment origins,” and that in the past the company had “regarded regulatory compliance demands with disdain.”
Authorities also stressed the need for all financial activities to be licensed, while calling for Ant Group to establish a financial holding company to facilitate the regulation of its varied operations.