Chinese group Ant to close crowdfunding medical aid service

An Ant Group logo is pictured at the headquarters of Ant Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China on October 29, 2020. REUTERS / Aly Song

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BEIJING, Dec.28 (Reuters) – Ant Group (688688.SS) has announced that it will shut down its crowdfunded online medical aid service Xianghubao on Jan.28, a move that comes at a time of tightening regulation of financial technologies in China.

Ant, the fintech affiliate of retail giant Alibaba (9988.HK), said on Tuesday it made the move because “the caregiving industry has undergone significant changes” in the past year. , and that this decision was intended to protect the interests of users.

Xianghubao provides users with a basic health plan covering various types of serious illnesses. Registration is free, but all members share medical costs in the event of illness.

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Dubbed “mutual aid,” the industry has been under regulatory scrutiny since last year as regulators tighten the financial activities of online platforms.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) has said since last year that all online financial activities must be supervised and licensed by regulators. Support platforms are not approved by the CBIRC.

One of the other major players in the self-help industry, Tencent-backed Waterdrop Inc, shut down its service in March, while food delivery giant Meituan (3690.HK) closed its service in January.

Ant said Xianghubao has served more than 100 million members and that 179,127 sick users have received help from the platform since the service launched in 2018.

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Reporting by Cheng Leng and Ryan Woo; Editing by David Goodman and Pravin Char

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.