Watchdogs Hold Talks With Ant As China Releases Draft Online Lending Rules
BEIJING/SHANGHAI: China’s central bank and three financial regulators held talks with Ant Group’s top executives and its founder Jack Ma on Monday as Beijing published new draft rules for online micro-lending.
Ant, backed by Alibaba Group, is China’s dominant mobile payments firm, offering loans, payments, insurance and asset management, and is set to raise about $34.4 billion in the world’s largest initial public offering.
The People’s Bank of China, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) as well as the country’s banking and insurance regulator and forex regulator held the talks with Ant’s controlling shareholder Ma, its executive chairman Eric Jing and chief executive Simon Hu, a CSRC statement, which did not give further details, said.
An Ant spokeswoman said the company would “implement the meeting opinions in depth”.
The draft micro-lending rules, which were published separately by the central bank and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, set a 5 billion yuan ($748 million) registered capital threshold for micro-lenders that offer loans online across different regions.
While it made no mention of Ant, the draft comes as regulators sharpen their focus on banks that use micro-lenders or third-party technology platforms like Ant excessively for underwriting consumer loans, amid fears of rising defaults and deteriorating asset quality in a pandemic-hit economy.
The draft is open for public feedback until Dec. 2.
China’s Financial Stability and Development Committee, a cabinet-level body headed by Vice Premier Liu He, on Sunday warned of risks associated with the rapid development of fintech, in what was widely interpreted as a government response to the rise of players like Ant.
($1 = 6.6880 Chinese yuan renminbi)
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