China Gives Fintech Firms Up to Two Years to Meet Capital Rules

China’s top financial regulator said all fintech platforms that offer banking services must comply with the same capital requirements as those imposed on traditional lenders to curb risks.

The regulator has set different deadlines for different financial services with the longest grace period of no more than two years, Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and party secretary of the central bank, said at a briefing on Tuesday, without elaborating.

China has introduced a slew of rules for online lenders since late last year, telegraphing an abrupt loss of appetite among regulators for free-wheeling fintech innovations. The derailment of Ant Group Co.’s $35 billion share sale and mounting scrutiny of its operations have since upended one of China’s biggest business success stories. The authorities have also cracked down on technology juggernauts in everything from e-commerce to credit-scoring and payments.

The capital requirements are expected to hit Ant the most by crippling growth at its two microlending arms. Ant’s Jiebei and Huabei units had facilitated 1.7 trillion yuan ($263 billion) in consumer loans to 500 million people as of June 30, with only about 2% being kept on the parent’s balance sheet. Concerns that it will need to raise capital to plug the shortfall and seek national licenses have prompted analysts at Morningstar Inc. to slash estimates on Ant’s valuation by half from $280 billion before its scrapped listing.

Meanwhile, Guo said China continues to support fintech innovation such as providing credit to small businesses, though they must do so according to law and regulations.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.