Chinese authorities have announced a 7.12 billion yuan ($984 million) fine for Ant Group, marking the end of a regulatory overhaul of the fintech company and the country's internet sector.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) stated that Ant and its subsidiaries violated laws and regulations in areas including corporate governance, financial consumer protection, payment and settlement business, and anti-money laundering obligations.
The fine, one of the largest ever for an internet company in China, is part of the government's efforts to crackdown on the country's internet sector. The PBOC stated that financial regulators would fine Ant and its subsidiaries a total of 7.12 billion yuan and require the company to stop operations of its crowdfunded medical aid service, Xianghubao, and compensate users.
Ant Group responded to the fine by stating that it had completed its rectification work and would comply with the terms of the penalty. The company closed down Xianghubao in 2021. The penalty is seen as a key step for Ant Group to secure a financial holding company license, allowing it to seek growth and potentially revive its plans for a stock market debut.
The fine on Ant Group follows the broader regulatory crackdown on China's private enterprises, which began with the cancellation of Ant's IPO in late 2020 and has impacted the market value of several companies. The move is aimed at stabilizing private sector confidence and clarifying compliance boundaries.
The announcement of the fine has had an impact on the stock market, with U.S.-listed shares in Ant's affiliate, Alibaba Group, rising by 9%. This comes as a positive sign for Ant Group's future prospects. The fine is expected to conclude China's regulatory actions against private enterprises in the internet sector.
The fine on Ant Group is the largest regulatory penalty imposed on a Chinese internet company since Didi Global was fined by China's cybersecurity regulator last year. The penalty is part of China's efforts to boost private sector confidence amid economic challenges and comes after the return of Jack Ma, the founder of Ant Group, to China earlier this year.
Overall, the fine on Ant Group marks an important milestone in the regulatory overhaul of the company and the broader internet sector in China. It sets the stage for Ant Group to secure a financial holding company license and pursue its growth plans, while also signaling the government's commitment to regulating the industry and stabilizing private sector confidence.
By fLEXI tEAM