Tencent WeChat Pay rejig would have 1 bln problems

WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken
WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

HONG KONG, March 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) - A Tencent (0700.HK) financial services overhaul would be a messy affair. Chinese regulators may require the internet titan to apply for a license for its mobile payments service and separate it from the rest of the social media business, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

Recent financial holding company rules have already prompted a sweeping restructuring read more at rival Ant, which operates the payments-to-wealth management Alipay app. It's part of the central bank's long-standing campaign to rein in systemic risk from online platforms that, until a few years ago, flourished outside of the country's tightly regulated financial sector.

Alibaba (9988.HK) founder Jack Ma controversially hived off Alipay from the e-commerce group in 2011. Tencent's payments service, though, is embedded in its crown jewel, WeChat, a super-app crucial to life and business inside China. Any restructuring efforts will have to factor in how disruptive it will be for 1.3 billion monthly active users and potentially millions of merchants. Ring-fencing financial services from the rest of the company looks prudent read more , but it may be a long slog. (By Robyn Mak)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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