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China's central bank mulls central custody account for payment platforms

China's central bank is considering requiring some of the country's payment platforms to park all their customers' funds at a central custody account, state-run Securities Times reported May 10, citing unnamed industry executives.

The People's Bank of China has been ramping up regulation of the fast-growing third-party payment industry since April 2017, when it asked all nonbanking payment institutions to transfer between 12% and 24% of their customers' funds to any commercial banks approved by the central bank. The proportion of the funds was then raised to 50% in April.

The latest changes reported by the Securities Times include raising that percentage to 100%, and asking the platforms to park funds at a central custody account administered by the central bank instead of commercial banks.

The report said 26 payment platforms have been picked for the trial. It is not known which platforms were selected.

China's payment market is dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat Pay, which Financial Times said in May 11 report, made up 90% of the country's US$16 trillion annual mobile payment market.