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Guo Shuqing – the regulator set on de-risking China’s fintech sector

­China’s top banking regulator, Guo Shuqing, is on a mission to rein in the country’s growing fintech sector. As opposed to the traditional banking sector, China’s fintech sector is dominated by private companies. As chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), he is attracting attention as he takes on the task of de-risking and regulating the financial sector.

In November last year, he was at the helm when the CBIRC when the decision was taken to halt Ant Group’s USD 37 billion initial public offering, and last month he was behind the issuance of new draft rules that could force the break-up of the company’s online payment arm on antitrust grounds. Taking on Jack Ma has important symbolic value - Guo is quoted as saying no fintech company should be allowed to become “too big to fail”.

Guo has been in his current position since 2017 and is also the vice governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), where he heads the bank’s Communist Party committee. Giving these two roles to one person is new - the previous governor of PBOC did not have to deal with a vice governor like Guo.
He is famously sceptical of internet finance and led the clampdown on China’s peer-to-peer lending industry. While he is said to see the benefit of some payment apps that are “helpful to the real economy”, he says people should be very wary of any investment that promises returns that are too good to be true.

The 65-year-old was born in Inner Mongolia and studied philosophy and Marxism before focussing on economics. His studies took him to Oxford University where he was a visiting scholar. But Guo is first and foremost a party guy. He has built a reputation for fixing complex issues, having previously pushed through reforms to prevent insider trading and market manipulation in the stock market. With experience running the China Construction Bank and a spell as governor of the province of Shandong, he is clearly trusted by President Xi Jinping to de-risk China’s rapidly evolving financial sector by means of regulation.

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