China asks all internet platforms to investigate fintech operations

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking and insurance regulator on Thursday said all internet platforms should investigate their fintech businesses to ensure they comply with regulatory requirements, and rectify any failings as soon as possible.

China’s financial regulators have summoned Alibaba’s financial technology affiliate Ant Group for talks recently over outstanding problems.

“(Ant’s) problems are not individual, but universal to some extent,” China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said in an online statement.

The watchdog urged platforms conducting online micro-lending, insurance, wealth management and trusts business to speed up their internal investigation processes, and said it would arrange investigations in the near future.

“The rapid development of fintech has brought problems in cybersecurity, market monopoly, data ownership, consumer rights protection and other issues, affecting market fairness and financial stability,” the CBIRC said.

“All financial activities must be fully regulated in accordance with the law, (and) operate under a licence,” it added.

Chinese regulators halted Ant’s $37 billion initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which was set to be the world’s largest, last month, amid concerns over systemic financial risks brought by the financial empire.

Ant said in a statement last week it would establish a “rectification” working group and fully implement regulatory requirements.

Since the IPO was suspended, regulators have stepped up scrutiny of financial operations carried out by some of country’s biggest internet platforms to fend off risks.

On Sunday, the central bank said it had asked Ant, whose businesses include payment processing, consumer lending and insurance products distribution, to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations.

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