After the tech antitrust probe in the United States, new reports suggest that China's top antitrust watchdog is weighing whether they would launch an inquiry into Alipay and WeChat Pay after the country's central bank has prompted it.

China's Central Bank Urges Investigation

According to a report by Reuters, China's central bank argues that these digital payment technologies have been quashing their competition using their dominant position in the market.

Furthermore, the State Council's antitrust committee has allegedly been gathering more information about Alipay, which is owned by Ant Group, an affiliate of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA.N), as well as about WeChat Pay, which is owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Based on the report, the committee has been doing it for over a month already.

Nevertheless, the news outlet's unidentified source said that they have not yet decided whether they would continue with the investigation and whether a decision will actually be made.

However, one source said that they are taking "very seriously" the People's Bank of China's recommendation.

Additionally, the bank has made the recommendation that the State Council committee make the investigation around the second quarter of this year.

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The Biggest Players

Meanwhile, the sources claimed that Ant and Tencent are apparently trying to lobby government officials to prevent any probe from happening, especially as an investigation could easily dampen ant's planned dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong that seeks a valuation of over $200 billion.

According to Bloomberg, both Alipay and WeChat Pay are used by the majority of people in China who are using mobile and cashless payments, with Alipay having over 900 million users in the country while WeChat Pay has over 800 million monthly active users.

For three consecutive quarters, Ant Group's share of mobile payments increased to 55.1% in 2019, while Tencent is following behind at 38.9%, according to research consultant iResearch.

Letting the Smaller Companies In

Because of their dominance, it appears as though authorities have been trying to whittle down their dominance to let the small players in on the game, which is why the central bank has proposed to standardize the interoperability of QR code payments.

Besides possible probes into Alipay and WeChat Pay, China's antitrust committee is also debating some major revisions with their antitrust laws for the first time in over a decade.

The news outlet has reached out to both companies for comments, but they have not responded yet.

On Wednesday of this week, July 29, Tech CEOs of giant companies Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple have recently just faced the Congress for an antitrust hearing in the US that lasted around six hours, according to The Verge, where they were asked a total of 217 questions, with each company facing different issues surrounding their dominance online.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) ended the hearing by saying, "The companies as they exist today have monopoly power. Some need to be broken up. All need to be properly regulated."

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Written by: Nhx Tingson

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