Alibaba Group thanked the regulators in an open letter after the local authorities imposed a record antitrust fine on the internet giant. China’s regulatory wrapped up the probe in four months, compared with years such investigations take in the USA or Europe. The $2.8 bn fine was just 4% of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic revenue, far less than the maximum 10% allowed under Chinese law. Alibaba’s shares rose 5.5% in Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday morning.
Tencent has been put on notice by the Chinese authorities. The conglomerate was censured by the local antitrust watchdog on Friday. Media reports suggest that the token fine was just a beginning, as Tencent is said to be the next in line for larger scrutiny after the clampdown on Ant Group. Ant and Tencent, reports said, will set an example by the authorities for other fintech players. Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu together control over 40 financial licenses.
China has released new anti-monopoly rules for internet platforms, further tightening existing restrictions for internet firms. The new set of rules bar firms from a few behaviours, including forcing merchants to choose between China’s top internet players. The guidelines are expected to put new pressure on — Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces or JD.com, Ant Group’s Alipay, Tencent Holding’s WeChat Pay.
South Korea has launched an antitrust investigation into Google over its plans to enforce commission fees for in-app purchases made through its mobile app store. The US tech giant has come under intense scrutiny from S Korean regulators along with Indian entrepreneurs for mandating apps to make purchases through its billing system. S Korean developers have voiced strong opposition against the move, arguing that it could violate local fair trade and telecom laws.