Fintech

A cyclist and pedestrians wearing protective masks travel past buildings on Financial Street in Beijing, China on 19 May 2021. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

Blindspots in the financial regulation of China’s tech ‘platform companies’

Zhang Yugui points out that China’s financial services development is currently at the awkward stage where there is much financial innovation and the opening up of the financial sector, but not yet the corresponding capabilities to manage the complex financial systems and cutting-edge fintech. Hence we see the recent rash of anti-monopoly measures directed at tech giants such as Ant Group and Tencent. But has the industry reached a true tipping point? What must regulators do to bridge the gap?
More Chinese tech companies are gaining a presence in Singapore. (Graphic: Ho Han Chong/SPH)

Singapore a popular base for China tech firms

In recent years, China's tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance have set up regional offices in Singapore. With insights from industry experts, Zaobao senior business correspondent Chew Boon Leong analyses the impact that an influx of Chinese tech companies will have on Singapore. Will it affect Singapore's neutral stance and lead the nation to become a battleground for tech companies from the US and China?
 Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, speaks in front of a picture of SoftBank's human-like robot named 'Pepper' during a news conference in Chiba, Japan, 18 June 2015. (Yuya Shino/Reuters)

The end of 'Papa Ma Yun' and his Hupan University

As Chinese authorities take action against monopolistic behaviour and the “disorderly expansion of capital”, companies like Alibaba and founder Jack Ma are finding themselves falling out of favour not only with the authorities but with the public. The latest development is the name change for Hupan University, established by Ma, where the motivations of the institution have come under question. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing looks at the issue.
Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Alibaba Group, arrives at the "Tech for Good" Summit in Paris, France, 15 May 2019. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

What the Chinese government wants to tell Alibaba and China's tech giants [Part II]

Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion RMB after an anti-monopoly probe. Commentator Yuan Guobao observes that Alibaba is not the only tech giant in China accused of monopolistic practices; for that matter, the “big four” companies in the US have also come under the spotlight. All this suggests that on a global level, tech companies must be prepared to adhere to a strict regulatory environment, even as they break new ground.
An Alibaba sign is seen outside the company's office in Beijing, China, on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Is Alibaba doomed? [Part I]

Alibaba was recently slapped with a 18.2 billion RMB fine and has acquiesced to state authorities’ demands for “rectification''. Commentator Yuan Guobao asserts that Alibaba’s “choose one out of two” policy of tying online merchants down to exclusive deals was already sounding alarm bells. Jack Ma’s politically incorrect speech at the Shanghai Bund Summit may have been a fire starter, but the tech giant’s troubles have been brewing for quite some time.
A man walks past an Alibaba sign outside the company's office in Beijing, China on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Can private Chinese enterprises truly ‘develop boldly and with confidence’?

Amid punishments meted out to Chinese private enterprises such as Alibaba, President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to various private enterprises was seen as a way for the Chinese government to assure companies that the state would still be supporting them. However, the status of private enterprises has always been a little fuzzy in China. Companies feel that they are at a disadvantage when competing with state-owned enterprises and may be reined in when they grow too large. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong looks for a way out.   
A man stands at a crossroads in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 5 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Lesson for Jack Ma's Ant: Finance is finance and technology is technology

Chinese author and fintech researcher Yang Jun says that while the fintech industry has been booming over the past few years, not everybody seems to know that it is really about using technology to complement finance, which remains the foundation. Knowing this distinction will help one better understand the current push to impose regulations on the sector.
This file photo taken on 27 October 2020 shows a woman walking past an Alipay advertising billboard in a subway in Beijing. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Building an integrated digital economy: How Asia can continue to thrive in the post-pandemic era

With the pandemic showing little signs of slowing and as countries around the world shift away from the traditional economy, academic Pei Sai Fan notes that this is an opportune time for Asia to boost its digital economic sector. Namely, there will be the opportunity to consider building a more integrated Asian digital economy and to promote Asian digital trade and a common digital currency.
China's official app for digital yuan is seen on a mobile phone next to 100-yuan banknotes in this illustration picture taken 16 October 2020. (Florence Lo/REUTERS)

Will China's digital currency accelerate the internationalisation of the RMB?

Some are of the opinion that an e-RMB will encourage the internationalisation of the RMB as a major global currency. NUS academic Duan Jin-Chuan argues that whether the RMB is digitalised or not is not the key issue; internationalisation of the RMB really depends on demand for and attractiveness of the RMB as a trading and value storage tool.