Net buyers required to register names, ID numbers
Updated: 2012-01-06 09:49
By Chen Limin (China Daily)
The website of three large companies that handle online third-party payments. The value of all third-party payments reached 1.1134 trillion yuan ($180 billion) in China in 2010, almost doubling the amount for the year before. [Photo / China Daily]
BEIJING - To open an account to make online payments, Internet users must register their real names, ID card numbers and other information, according to a draft proposal released by China's central bank on Thursday.
In 2011, the People's Bank of China released a series of rules governing third-party payments - payments that go through an intermediary before reaching a seller, made on the Internet, mobile phones and telephones.
Online payments make up the majority of all third-party payments and, as a result, the current proposal is seen by many as being the most important part of the recent series of rules.
The draft calls on companies that provide online payment services to verify information submitted by payers, whether they are individuals or corporations. It would make such verification - which many companies have taken to doing without prompting - a legal obligation.
The rules are also meant to prevent buyers from overdrawing on their credit cards and to specify circumstances in which transactions involving large amounts of money must meet certain criteria before they can proceed.
The goal of these rules is to prevent fraud. Third-party payments have become increasingly common in recent years, opening more doors to misdeeds.
"This will subject everything in the online payment market to specific rules," said Zhang Meng, an analyst with the domestic research company Analysys International.
The value of all third-party payments reached 1.134 trillion yuan ($180 billion) in China in 2010, almost doubling the amount for the year before, according to the researcher. Of that, 96 percent came from online payments, the result of the increasing popularity of online shopping among Chinese Internet users.
Alipay.com Co Ltd, the payment arm of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said it will abide by any rules the People's Bank of China adopts but declined to comment on the draft, according to an e-mail reply on Thursday.
"The rules may not affect competition among market players, but they do help the industry to be more regulated and healthy," said a manager from a third-party payment company, who preferred not to identify his employer or himself.
Since May 2011, the People's Bank of China has licensed 101 third-party payment companies to do business. Among them, Alipay has a 49-percent market share in the industry and Tencent Holdings Ltd's Tenpay has a 22.4-percent share, according to Analysys International.