China says measures applied to Ant Group to be imposed on other payment firms

China’s central bank said on Thursday that anti-monopoly measures applied to e-commerce giant Alibaba’s financial technology affiliate Ant Group will also be imposed on other payment service companies.

China suspended the planned $37 billion listing of Ant Group in November amid growing concerns over banks using third-party technology platforms like Ant for underwriting loans amid fears of rising defaults and a deterioration in asset quality.

Regulators, led by the central bank, in April imposed a sweeping restructuring on the fintech giant, forcing it to turn itself into a financial holding firm and to cut links between its payments app, Alipay, and its other businesses.

“Monopolistic behavior does not only exist in the Ant Group but also in other institutions,” Fan Yifei, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told a media conference in Beijing.

Fan said measures would be revealed soon. He did not elaborate.

Fan said the speed of development of China’s payment industry had been rapid over the past few years but at the same time, there were “monopoly and excessive capital expansions during (its) development”.

China’s online payments ecosystem is dominated by Ant’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay.

In 2020, the PBOC has urged the top antitrust agency to look at whether to launch an investigation into Alipay and WeChat Pay, Reuters reported, prompted by the duopoly and their market influence.

Tencent did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.