Asia

China wants to work with foreign peers on anti-trust issues, central bank vice governor says

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s regulators want to step up exchanges with international counterparts and strengthen co-operation on anti-trust issues, data treatment and consumer protection, China’s central bank vice governor said in a Financial Times opinion piece.

FILE PHOTO: Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), attends a news conference during the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Pan Gongsheng said authorities wanted to ensure fintech regulation was effective, measured and would guard against cross-border regulatory arbitrage and contagion.

Fintech was still finance in essence, so the principle of “same business, same rules” should apply, he added in the piece published on Wednesday.

“We need regulation that emphasises the substance not the form of a company. The aim is to align business rules and standards with regulation to fend off arbitrage,” he wrote.

His comments come as China tightens scrutiny of its tech giants, particularly those that have expanded into financial services, by drafting new anti-monopoly rules and guidelines and reversing a once laissez-faire approach.

The new approach saw the abrupt suspension of Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO in November, dealing a major blow to the fintech arm founded by billionaire Jack Ma.

Authorities have also rolled out a slew of other financial regulations, including more stringent antitrust requirements on non-bank payment firms, and tighter data collection rules for personal credit scoring business.

Pan said China had “put in place a prudent yet inclusive regulatory environment for fintech development” in the sector’s early days, but that regulatory gaps still needed to be addressed and financial risks mitigated.

A practice by some big companies to use profits from their other businesses to unfairly grab fintech market share was a global issue, he added, citing the European Union’s penalties on Alphabet Inc’s Google and U.S. antitrust cases against Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc as examples.

“When we insist on good supervision, equal access and fair competition, fintech will develop in a way that balances capital expansion, innovation and public interests, and develops technology for good,” he said.

“It’s not an easy task. We need to try hard and work together.”

China’s top banking and insurance regulator also said on Wednesday it would step up supervision of banks and insurers with internet platforms in 2021.

It would also push large banks to provide risk management tools and models to smaller banks, a service sector that used to rely on country’s leading fintech players.

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