BEIJING, December 28 (TMTPOST)— Alibaba’s fintech unit Ant Group announced on Tuesday to stop cost-sharing of Xianghubao from that day and shut down this biggest mutual aid health product on January 28, 2022, ending the more than three years’ old product once attracted over 100 million users joined in.
Source: Visual China
Xianghubao said the decision was made to protect all the users’ interests in the long run, citing “significant changes” in the industry in the past year. Prior to the closure, the platform would shoulder all the members’ medical costs that set to be shared in this month and January. To prevent protections suspended in the future, the platform pledged that members can indecently choose appropriate insurance medical insurance products as alternatives.
Excluding Xianghubao, a total of ten mutual aid platforms in China including Tecent-backed Waterdrop and the platform of the food delivery giant Meituan and the one owned by the leading smartphone maker Xiaomi, have ceased operation since Xiao Yuanqi, vice chair of the Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), the top banking and insurance regulator, said in January that his agency would focus more on internet companies which have operations in mutual aid industry to understand the business mode and relevant risks and then take corresponding measures.
In a research paper posted in September, 2020, CBIRC’s Anti-Illegal Financial Activities Bureau said the online mutual aid platforms had features of commercial insurance but warned that these booming platforms, like the Wild West, were unregulated since there didn’t exist any clear regulation subjects or regulatory standards at the moment. In the last April, Xiao cautioned mutual aid’s potential risks again. “Any internet business, if under the cover of mutual aid to be engaged in financial or insurance operation, requires rectification as it deviates from the mutual aid nature. All the financial activities shall be ‘licensed-driving ’,” he noted.
It was said in June that Xianghubao was soon to announce to close. Ant declined to comment on the rumor but admitted in prospectus that it didn’t rule out future regulations imposed on products like Xianghubao.