US Explores Curbs On Ant Group, Tencent Payment Systems

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The Trump administration is exploring restrictions on billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group as well as Tencent Holdings Ltd. over concerns that their digital payment platforms threaten U.S. national security, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that risks infuriating China and disrupting what could be the world’s largest initial public offering. Debate over how and whether to restrict Ant Group’s and Tencent’s payment systems has accelerated among senior U.S. officials in recent weeks though a final decision isn’t imminent, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity about an idea that’s still taking shape.

U.S. officials are concerned that Ant Group and other Chinese fintech platforms will come to dominate global digital payments, the people said. That in turn could give China access to banking and personal data of hundreds of millions of people. Senior administration officials discussed the idea in a Sept. 30 meeting in the White House Situation Room, according to two people familiar with the matter. Yet officials acknowledge that it would be difficult to move forward until they sort out the mechanism, and that is proving difficult to do as the officials seek to find a legally sound approach. There’s no indication the idea has been presented to President Donald Trump, whose approval would be required to proceed, two of the people said. The president fell ill with coronavirus a day after officials met to discuss China, and the issue hasn’t made much progress at such a senior level in the days since, one of the people said.

The report also notes that Ant, the online finance giant and owner of the Alipay e-payment system, “nears a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, possibly by the end of the month. An affiliate of Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Ant is preparing for an IPO of about $35 billion that would give it an overall valuation of $250 billion, twice that of Citigroup Inc.”