China’s proposed antitrust guidelines aim to curb runaway growth of its own Big Tech darlings, Alibaba, Ant Group, and Tencent

China's proposed antitrust guidelines aim to curb runaway growth of its own Big Tech darlings

Summary List Placement

Beijing has proposed new regulations to curb monopolistic platform practices by internet companies, according to Bloomberg and SCMP. This comes after new microlending restrictions halted Ant Group’s potentially record-breaking $34 billion IPO last week.

The guidelines put forth by the State Administration for Market Regulation cover anti-competitive behavior such as colluding on customer data, differential algorithmic pricing, and alliances that stifle competition. They may also control how Chinese tech firms attract foreign investment and control their ability to list overseas. The proposal elaborates upon Chinese Anti-Monopoly law which only recently expanded to cover internet companies in January.

The success of the “national champions” Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) was made possible in part by the state’s block on foreign influence from companies like Google and Facebook. China’s new antitrust rules could offer means of curtailing global aspirations of their homegrown giants, reining them back in under Beijing’s influence.

China’s tech firms have tried hard to decouple themselves from the historically tight relationships of state-owned enterprises, pushing back against state oversight. Ant Group has begun emphasizing its technology platform, dropping “finance” from its name to position itself as a partner—rather than competitor—to the state-owned banks its scale now overshadows.

Ant Group claimed 1.3 billion active users as of March, but has set a target for 2 billion users over the next 10 years, with the majority of growth coming from outside China. Users outside of China already account for 25% of Ant Group’s partnered user base. Ant Group’s Alipay covers 56% of the Chinese digital payments market with Tencent following close behind (39%).

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Aiming for not only Silicon Valley targets, these Chinese guidelines add to a global antitrust trend coming from all points on the compass:

China is also looking into Android’s dominance in mobile operating systems.
Japan pledged cooperation with EU regulators and is concerned with Alphabet’s Fitbit acquisition.
Indian regulators claim Google Pay’s default on Android suppresses payment competitors.
Apple has pledged $84 million to support competition in South Korea, closing out regulator’s examination of Apple’s contracts with mobile carriers.
The EU just issued charges on Amazon’s abuse of seller data to protect platform dominance. The EU also launched formal investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay.
In the US, the FTC has filed complaints against Facebook and the DOJ is likely to pursue its case against Google’s search dominance.

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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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