Ant Group stops selling online deposit products amid regulations

Alibaba's Ant Group removed the online deposit fund products offered by banks via its financial platform Alipay on Friday, as the fintech giant complies with regulatory requirements in fending off financial risks.

"Ant has voluntarily removed the online deposit products from Alipay in accordance with the recent regulatory requirements for online deposits services," the company said in a statement.

The removal will not impact existing users who have already deposited money with banks via Alipay, the statement added.

The group also vows to leverage technology to better support financial institutions and serve the real economy.

Apart from Ant Group, other fintech platforms offering deposit products include Duxiaoman, backed by Chinese internet search engine Baidu, and JD Digits powered by The latter two have yet to make a move on their online deposit products.

Earlier in November, Ant Group's mega $37 billion dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong hit the pause button amid China's tightened regulatory scrutiny on fintech in safeguarding financial stability.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the suspension of its listing, Ant Group's Chairman Eric Jing pledged compliance with supervision on Tuesday, while pointing out that it is an "exploration process with no mature experience to copy."

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In the past two years, many banks have launched deposit products on internet financial platforms to broaden customer bases, noted Sun Tianqi, head of the financial stability bureau at the People's Bank of China at a forum this week.

"Such products have high returns and low thresholds, and they have become the main means for some small and medium banks to absorb deposits and ease liquidity pressure," he said.

Some local banks have been able to absorb deposits from across the country through online financial platforms, which broke the geographical restrictions on local banks, said Sun.

He labeled the online financial platforms carrying out such financial services as "driving without a license", and said they should be included in the scope of financial supervision.

(Cover: The Alipay digital payment service app operated by Ant Group. /CFP)

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