Ant Group begins to differentiate Jiebei consumer lending business from bank lending

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Ant Group said on Monday it was working to “differentiate” part of its Jiebei short-term consumer lending business as it pursues a Beijing-led restructuring aimed at curbing some of its freewheeling activities.

Ant, the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, had its $37 billion IPO derailed by regulators last year and has been scrambling to transform itself into a financial holding company ever since.

Local media reported changes to Jiebei over the weekend after Chinese regulators in April asked Ant to carry out a sweeping overhaul of its business, which includes consolidating its Jiebei and Huabei credit products, into a new consumer credit company.

They also criticized Huabei and Jiebei for inappropriate links between payment services and financial products, saying the latter may have over-promoted user loan services.

The Shanghai Securities News reported on Sunday, citing borrowers, that the Jiebei platform had made changes to show which loans were provided by Chongqing Ant Consumer Finance Co and which were provided by banks.

“Jiebei is gradually working on brand differentiation,” an Ant Group spokesperson said, adding that consumer credit services provided independently by banks or other financial institutions will be featured on one page.” credit loan”.

Ant did not say how its business would be affected by brand differentiation.

Ant was ordered by regulators to complete the restructuring of the Huabei and Jiebei brand within 6 months of starting operations for its consumer finance company, local media, the 21st Century Business Herald reported earlier. .

Ant’s consumer finance unit was granted permission to start operations in Chongqing city in June.

Huabei and Jiebei were used by around 500 million people in the 12 months to June 30, 2020, Ant said in its IPO prospectus.

In September, Ant’s virtual credit card service Huabei began sending its consumer credit data to a database run by China’s central bank, a key move for the company and regulators as that Beijing is tightening its grip on the fintech sector.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Brenda Goh; editing by Richard Pullin)

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