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    Chinese Financial Regulators Issue Warning to Big Tech Firms —Update

    By Stephanie Yang 

    TAIPEI — Chinese language monetary regulators on Thursday ordered a few of the nation’s largest expertise firms to alter monetary enterprise practices seen as dangerous and violating antitrust guidelines, the most recent signal of heightened scrutiny of the sector.

    China’s central financial institution, along with the nation’s banking, insurance coverage, securities and foreign-exchange regulators, summoned 13 expertise companies and ordered them to delink their fee programs from some monetary merchandise. In addition they demanded the businesses deliver their on-line lending and deposit-taking companies according to regulatory necessities.

    The companies included Tencent Holdings Ltd., ByteDance Ltd. and the monetary arms of Meituan, Didi Chuxing Know-how Co., JD.com Inc. and Journey.com Group Ltd., in keeping with an announcement from the Folks’s Financial institution of China.

    Spokespeople for Tencent, Meituan, Didi and JD.com did not instantly reply to requests for remark. ByteDance and Journey.com declined to remark.

    The transfer comes after months wherein Beijing halted a report preliminary public providing by financial-technology big Ant Group Co. and imposed a report antitrust fantastic on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

    Monetary regulators stated many Chinese language on-line platforms have been providing monetary providers with out the correct licenses, utilizing insufficient administration programs and interesting in unfair competitors.

    The central financial institution referred to as on certified firms to arrange monetary holding firms and submit them to regulatory oversight — a transfer that Ant Group made earlier this month following a authorities probe.

    The PBOC stated the summoned tech companies pledged to adjust to the rectification plan and agreed to implement modifications primarily based on regulatory necessities.

    Chinese language officers’ regulatory marketing campaign, which started late final 12 months, was primarily targeted at first on entrepreneur Jack Ma’s enterprise empire, which is centered round Alibaba and Ant. In latest weeks, nevertheless, traders have grown involved that the regulatory scrutiny might unfold to different Chinese language web firms.

    China’s tech giants, whose core companies vary from social media to journey hailing to e-commerce, have in recent times made quite a few forays into monetary providers.

    WeChat, Tencent’s ubiquitous messaging platform, has a couple of billion customers, lots of whom use its in style funds service, WeChat Pay. In accordance with S&P World Market Intelligence, 95% of Chinese language web customers surveyed final 12 months stated they use WeChat Pay, the identical as Ant’s equally in style Alipay.

    On-line retailer JD.com sells some wealth-management merchandise and makes client loans, whereas ride-hailing firm Didi and different expertise companies have additionally ventured into unsecured lending and different monetary providers.

    Earlier this month, China’s essential antitrust watchdog summoned almost three dozen Chinese language tech firms and demanded that they submit self-examinations and rectification plans for any monopolistic habits. The regulatory physique steered that different companies be taught from Alibaba’s instance, and printed statements from every firm detailing how they’d adjust to rules.

    Ant, which has shelved its IPO and has stated it will apply to grow to be a monetary holding firm overseen by China’s central financial institution, may also must appropriate what regulators describe as unfair competitors in its funds enterprise.

    The Wall Avenue Journal reported earlier this week that Beijing is now wanting into how Ant was capable of win speedy approval final 12 months for its IPO, signaling that regulators have been wanting extra broadly for proof of malfeasance.

    Forward of Ant’s IPO final 12 months, China’s central financial institution issued new guidelines for monetary holding firms that may require them to carry extra capital to again funds and loans, a transfer geared toward mitigating systemic monetary threat.

    On Thursday, the central financial institution acknowledged the function that tech firms have performed in serving to enhance the effectivity and inclusiveness of monetary providers, however warned towards unfair competitors and violations of client rights.

    The rectification measures listed in Thursday’s announcement included securing licenses to function monetary companies, strengthening monetary client protections and controlling the growth of nonbank fee accounts. Any actions that fail to adjust to regulation will probably be strictly investigated and handled, the central financial institution stated.

    –Grace Zhu in Beijing contributed to this text.

    Write to Stephanie Yang at stephanie.yang@wsj.com

     

    (END) Dow Jones Newswires

    April 29, 2021 11:03 ET (15:03 GMT)

    Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Firm, Inc.

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