China only introduced its framework for financial holding companies in September and many of the specifics are still being ironed out. While the rules will eventually provide more regulatory clarity for Ant, they’ll almost certainly force the company to slow the torrid pace of expansion that has made it China’s dominant fintech player and one of the world’s most valuable startups.
Ant’s restructuring is part of a broader government campaign to increase supervision of the financial and technology sectors. Regulators have in recent months targeted everything from health-care crowdfunding to consumer lending. In January, they proposed measures to curb market concentration in online payments, where Ant and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are the biggest players.