China fines group-buying platforms owned by Meituan, Pinduoduo over improper pricing

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China fined on Wednesday five community group-buying platforms owned and backed by the likes of Meituan, Pinduoduo, Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group and Didi Chuxing, citing “improper pricing behaviour”.

The State Administration of Market Supervision said it had decided to fine the registered firms behind Didi-owned Chengxin Youxuan, Pinduoduo’s Duo Duo Maicai, Meituan Select, and Nicetuan 1.5 million yuan ($230,000) each, and that of Shixianghui 500,000 yuan. Nicetuan and Shixianghui respectively count Alibaba and Tencent as investors.

These platforms had issued since the second half of 2020 a large amount of price subsidies which disrupted market order, the regulator said. Some of them also used false or misleading price tactics to “trick” consumers into buying from them, it added.

Duoduo Maicai and Chengxin Youxuan said on Wednesday that they attach great importance to the issues and will carry out rectifications.

The other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In China, community group buying refers to a practice of allowing groups of local residents to get discounts by buying together in bulk. Last year the regulator said internet platforms were competing for market share with unreasonably low prices.

China has vowed to strengthen oversight of its big tech firms, which rank among the world’s largest and most valuable, citing concerns that they have built market power that stifles competition, misused consumer data and violated consumer rights.

($1 = 6.4645 yuan)

Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Additional Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates