China’s crackdown on Jack Ma’s empire is far from over: The country’s regulators have ordered the Ma-founded Alibaba affiliate Ant Group to scale down its business. In particular, they’ve ordered the company to “return to its origins” as a payment provider. Ant Group started out as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts, as well as lending, insurance and wealth management services. Pan Gongsheng, the deputy governor of China’s central bank, called those services “illegal” and said the company must “strictly rectify” those activities. As The Guardian noted, those services are the group’s most profitable and fastest-growing divisions.
Gongsheng listed all the steps Ant Group are required to take as ordered by Chinese regulators in a release posted on the bank’s official website. Those requirements include prohibiting unfair competition, improving corporate governance and ensuring everything it does is “in accordance with the law.” As for the company, it told The Guardian in a statement that it would form a “rectification working group” to implement those requirements. A spokesperson explained: