The ABC misleads on China and fintech

By David Tuckwell on Monday 19 June 2017

Alternative Lending

A report on fintech is misleading

The public broadcaster provides misleading coverage of fintech and China. 

Fintech is obscure and off the radar of the Australian public and mainstream press. 

So it was a pleasant surprise when ABC’s breakfast show with Fran Kelly - a reputable programme with a wide audience - took notice and ran a report on the industry. 

But it was a shame, then, that the story was misleading. 

In its report, “Big banks and fintech start-ups face up to Jack Ma's mobile payments juggernaut Ant Financial,” the public broadcaster suggested that Aussie banks are up against it from the Chinese. It said Alipay, the payments subsidiary of Jack Ma’s Alibaba, is a “threat on the horizon”.

Only this is mostly false. 

Alipay - as its name suggests - is in payments, not banking. Alipay does not lend long and borrow short; does not take deposits; and does not have a banking license. Alipay is not a bank and is not trying to be. 

It was for this reason, as the ABC report itself notes, that Alipay partnered with the Commonwealth Bank when it arrived in Australia last year: Alipay is not in competition with the banks. 

Of the two Australian fintech guests that appeared on the programme, neither said anything about Alipay. When asked, Alipay’s head of international operations said that his company had no plans to compete with banks in Australia. 

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