The Chinese banking regulator has formalized rules that will force Ant Group Co. and other online lenders to have more skin in the game when lending to banks, dealing a blow to a booming business that has helped boost Chinese consumer spending in recent years.
From 2022, the country’s internet lending platforms will need to fund at least 30% of every loan they jointly make with commercial lenders, which include banks, trust companies and finance companies. Individual banks will also be subject to new caps on the amount they can lend with online partners, according to regulations released by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Saturday.
Several analysts said on Monday that the rules targeted big tech companies, including Ant and WeBank, a large online lender backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. Both have become major originators of unsecured personal and small business loans by working with dozens of commercial lenders who provide most of the funds. Ant and WeBank declined to comment.
Ant, in particular, has come under intense regulatory scrutiny since the withdrawal of its successful IPO in early November of last year. Alipay owner, with more than a billion users in China, has partnered with around 100 commercial lenders, including many small regional banks and trust companies, to make loans to hundreds of millions of people, thus realizing big profits.
At the end of June 2020, Ant had the equivalent of $ 267 billion in consumer loans outstanding, accounting for nearly a fifth of the country’s outstanding household short-term debt. Only 2% of that total was funded by the Hangzhou-based company. Its consumer loan services, Huabei and Jiebei, have provided credit to many young people in China who are not eligible for credit cards issued by the bank.