Chinese Central Bank Calls for Stronger Regulation of Large-scale Online Finance Platforms

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The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has flagged stronger regulation of large-scale online finance platforms in an essay published on its official website.

The essay drafted by PBOC’s Financial Consumer Rights and Interest Protection Department (金融消费权益保护) said that “the most urgent task at present for regulation of large-scale Internet platforms is integrated use of various regulatory tools and achieving comprehensive regulation.”

“[We] propose that China comprehensively include financial operations within regulation in accordance with the law, and strengthen regulation of large-scale Internet platforms – in particular strengthening the comprehensiveness and transparency of information disclosures, in order to pragmatically protect the long-term and fundamental interests of financial consumers.”

PBOC officials said that it was “not easy to be optimistic” about the current state of information protection for users of large-scale online platforms in China, highlighting problems and disputes in relation to the gathering and usage of information by certain leading Chinese Internet concerns.

The PBOC essay recommends a range of measures in future including:

  1. Encouraging large-scale Internet platforms to establish the concept of “responsible finance,” and pragmatically undertake their responsibility of protecting consumers.
  2. Strengthen legislative protections and the establishment of standards for the protection of the financial information of consumers.
  3. Strengthen the regulation of large-scale Internet platforms.
  4. Strengthen anti-trust reviews of large-scale Internet platform enterprises.
  5. Improve financial credit information infrastructure.
  6. Standardize the financial sales and promotions conduct of large-scale Internet platforms.

The publication of the essay arrives amidst a campaign by Chinese regulators to crack down on “monopoly conduct” in the Internet sector, which has included the launch of an anti-trust investigation into e-commerce giant Alibaba at the end of December and the unveiling of new anti-trust rules that permit the dismantling of third-party payments platforms.

TikTok-owner ByteDance has recent capitalised upon the intensified regulatory environment by filing a lawsuit against rival tech giant Tencent, claiming that its barring of ByteDance content from Tencent’s chat platforms comprises breach of anti-trust regulations.

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