Rectification of the financial businesses of 14 large-scale platforms including Ant Group has been "basically completed," and enterprises are now operating in accordance with laws, competing in a fair manner, with consumer rights' protection continuing to be strengthened and financial businesses becoming more regulated, an official of the People's Bank of China (PBC), the country's central bank, said on Friday.
Since November 2020, Chinese financial regulators including PBC, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and China Securities Regulatory Commission have guided and supervised 14 large-scale platform companies, including Ant, to carry out rectification on prominent issues associated with their financial businesses, such as operating without a license, regulatory arbitrage, blind expansion, and infringing on consumers' rights, PBC official Ma Jianyang said at a press briefing of the State Council Information Office on Friday.
According to Ma, Chinese financial authorities have issued a series of targeted system documents in sectors such as third-party payment, individual credit systems, internet saving, securities, insurance and funds, building a normalized supervisory framework for platforms' financial business, which lays a solid system foundation for normalized supervision.
Ma stressed that China will "unswervingly place equal emphasis on development and regulation" to support the healthy development of the platform economy.
While improving the ability of normalized supervision, the country will also study and formulate financial measures to promote the development of the platform economy, and make them play a growing role in "leading development, creating employment and global competition," Ma noted.
Industry observers said that Ma's comments, along with a slew of supportive measures on the internet economy issued in recent days, have sent out a clear signal that internet platforms will "embark on a new stage of regulated high-quality development" in 2023.
On Tuesday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba signed an agreement with the government of Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, to deepen strategic cooperation, according to media reports.
In addition to Hangzhou, local authorities in East China's Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, and Central China's Henan Province also announced tailor-made measures in 2023 to support the development of the platform economy.
Ant Group, the financial arm of Alibaba, also announced on Saturday plans to optimize corporate governance, including changing voting rights of major shareholders and adding a fifth independent director. The voting power of Alibaba's founder Jack Ma Yun will decline from 53.46 percent to 6.208 percent after the optimization.
In early January, Chinese regulators also approved plans by three companies based in Zhejiang Province to invest in Ant's consumer finance unit via a share capital increase, domestic news portal National Business Daily reported. The move marks critical progress in Ant's restructuring of its operations to meet regulatory requirements.