Jack Ma’s fintech platform Ant Group is reportedly in discussions with Chinese state-owned enterprises to supply data for the launch of a new credit ratings agency.
The discussions outline the creation of a new credit scoring company that would give Chinese regulators access to Ant Group’s proprietary data on the financial habits of the over one billion individuals who use its Alipay platform for payments, borrowing and investment purposes, according to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal.
The sources said that the discussions are likely to culminate in the formation of a joint-venture between Ant Group and Chinese state-owned-enterprises as early as the third quarter of 2021, with potential partners in the company including a Shanghai-based financial conglomerate.
Ongoing discussions reportedly focus on whether Ant or state-owned enterprises will be responsible for controlling the new company, that will be licensed to engage in credit ratings operations. Chinese regulators are reportedly pushing for the state to have greater sway over how the joint-venture operates.
The move comes following a fraught year for Ant Group, with Chinese regulators scuppering its mammoth IPO on the Hong Kong and Shanghai bourses just days prior to its scheduled launch in early November 2020.
Chinese authorities subsequently held disciplinary “regulatory discussions” with Ant Group executives including Jack Ma, requiring that the company return to its original focus on payments operations as well as convert into a financial holding company in order to expedite regulatory security.
The Chinese government has also targeted other parts of Jack Ma’s mammoth online empire, launching an anti-trust probe into his e-commerce giant Alibaba that culminated in the issuance of a USD$2.78 billion penalty.