Watchdogs hold talks with Ant as China releases draft online lending rules

BEIJING / SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s central bank and three financial regulators held talks with top executives at Ant Group Co Ltd and its founder Jack Ma on Monday as Beijing released new draft rules for online microcredit.

The meeting comes after Ma asked at a summit in Shanghai in late October whether international financial regulations are appropriate for the Chinese economy.

Ant, supported by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , is China’s dominant mobile payments company that also provides credit, insurance and asset management and will raise approximately $ 34.4 billion in the world’s largest IPO.

The People’s Bank of China, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and the Foreign Exchange Commission held discussions with Ant’s majority shareholder Ma, its Executive Chairman Eric Jing, and Chief Executive Simon Hu, CSRC, in a statement: without giving any information.

A spokeswoman for Ant said the company would “thoroughly implement the views of the meeting.”

The draft micro-credit regulations, published separately by the central bank and banking regulators, sets a 5 billion yuan ($ 748 million) threshold for registered capital for micro-lenders offering credit online in different regions.

Though Ant is not mentioned, the draft comes as regulators sharpen their focus on banks that make heavy use of micro-lenders or third-party technology platforms like Ant to write consumer loans amid fears of rising defaults and deteriorating asset quality in a pandemic. Meet economy.

The draft is open for public feedback until December 2nd.

Guo Wuping, head of the banking regulator’s consumer protection department, said in a Monday comment in the 21st Century Business Herald that the rights of users of consumer credit companies Huabei and Jiebei, owned by Ant, need to be scrutinized.

Guo said in the comment that such fintech lending firms should effectively perform the functions of banks and apply similar risk controls.

New funding methods and disorderly competition have “created chaos that harm the rights and interests of financial consumers,” Guo said in the comment.

China’s Financial Stability and Development Committee, a cabinet-level body led by Vice Premier Liu He, on Sunday highlighted risks related to the rapid development of fintech, widely interpreted as the government’s response to the rise of actors like Ant.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng, Colin Qian, Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; additional reporting by Meg Shen in Hong Kong and Engen Tham in Shanghai; writing by Tom Daly; editing by Alexander Smith and Christopher Cushing)

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