Alipay to have no controlling stakeholder

An expert said the central bank's acknowledgment of the removal of any controlling shareholder reflects the regulators' increasing emphasis on risk control, anti-monopoly measures and user data protection.


This undated photo shows the logo of Alipay, China's leading mobile and online payment service. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY

January 2, 2024

BEIJING – Move optimizes corporate governance, helps achieve sustainable development

Chinese financial technology company Ant Group has concluded a procedure to remove any actual controllers at its flagship payment platform Alipay, as part of its ongoing efforts to optimize its corporate governance and achieve long-term sustainable development.

China’s central bank has agreed with the change to having no controlling stakeholders for Alipay, a popular mobile payment tool by Ant Group, according to a statement from People’s Bank of China.

Liu Dian, a researcher at the China Institute of Fudan University, said the central bank’s acknowledgment of the removal of any controlling shareholder from Alipay reflects the regulators’ increasing emphasis on risk control, anti-monopoly measures and user data protection for internet finance service platforms.

“As financial technology companies grow rapidly, regulatory bodies demand these enterprises operate in a more transparent and regulated manner,” Liu said. “This will help platforms to address systemic financial risk control, ensure financial stability, and better protect consumers’ legitimate rights and interests.”

“The removal of any actual controllers can mitigate financial risks from the concentration of a single controlling shareholder,” said Bai Wenxi, chief economist at IPG China.

Bai said the move will enhance the company’s market competitiveness, optimize its business structure and improve its risk prevention.

“Having no actual controller will facilitate greater flexibility for the company to innovate and expand its operations, accelerate the pace of digital transformation and upgrades, and enhance user experience and service quality,” he added.

Ant Group said in a statement in January 2023 that no shareholder, alone or jointly with other parties, will have control over the company, as part of its broader push to optimize corporate governance. The move means Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma will no longer control the Chinese financial technology company after a series of adjustments that change the exercise of voting rights from Ant’s major shareholders.

Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, said the removal of any actual controllers from Alipay is conducive to improving the corporate governance system of Ant Group, and may pave the way for the company’s IPO.

Pan said the shareholding structure of Ant will be more transparent and diversified, which will ensure its steady and standardized development and effectively lower the operational risk of the platform.

Alipay’s change to having no actual controller is in line with the central bank’s requirements concerning the new rule for non-bank payment institutions, and helps promote the healthy development of the payment sector, said Wang Pengbo, a senior analyst at market consultancy Botong Analysys.

After the change to its shareholder voting rights, Ant can adjust its development direction in a timely manner based on market changes, and better protect the legitimate rights and interests of shareholders and users, he added.

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