In the Guiding Opinions, the government sets out general rules (including governmental policy commitments), basic rules and specific preferential measures relating to Internet finance covering Internet payment, online lending, equity crowd funding, Internet fund sales, online insurance services and Internet consumer finance. The Guiding Opinions’ positive attitude towards Internet finance is demonstrated by a variety of supportive policies and rules.
First, according to the Guiding Opinions, innovation in relation to Internet finance platforms, products and services will be encouraged to stimulate market vitality. The government will support financial institutions in building innovative Internet platforms for online banking, online securities, online insurance, online fund sales, online consumer finance and other services; support Internet enterprises to set up Internet payment institutions, online lending platforms, equity crowd funding platforms and online platforms for selling financial products; encourage e-commerce enterprises to build and improve their own online financial services systems and effectively expand the supply chain operations of e-commerce enterprises; and encourage financial institutions and Internet enterprises (collectively, Industry Players) to actively carry out product, service, technology and management innovation to enhance their core competitiveness.
Second, the Guiding Opinions require that the financing channels available to Industry Players be broadened and that the financing environment be improved. Measures will be taken to support private investors who want to establish Internet financial industry investment funds; encourage high-quality Industry Players that satisfy relevant conditions to raise funds by becoming publicly traded on the domestic capital markets; and encourage banking institutions to support Industry Players in the embryonic stage pursuant to various financial policies which support the development of small and micro-sized enterprises. In addition, the Guiding Opinions also support for those Industry Players contemplating a listing on a stock exchange in China.
Third, the Guiding Opinions require all supervising bodies to simplify their administrative procedures and fully support the development of Internet finance while performing their supervisory functions, in order to create an environment that is beneficial to the development of Internet finance.
Further, the Guiding Opinions clarify the division of responsibilities among the relevant regulatory agencies. Under the Guiding Opinions, PBOC, as the central bank in China, will supervise online payments and CBRC will oversee P2P online lending and provision of online trust services, while CSRC will be responsible for supervising crowd funding and online sale of funds and CIRC will oversee the provision of online insurance services. SAIC as the authority which regulates the incorporation of corporates will be responsible for registering the establishment and incorporation of the Industry Players and CIITO will oversee the provision of financial information services and provision of Internet content services.
Fourth, the Guiding Opinions include certain specific preferential measures to promote the development of Internet finance, including preferential taxation policies. Industry Players in the embryonic stage may enjoy preferential taxation policies if certain conditions are satisfied. Additional pre-tax deduction of research and development expenses incurred by Industry Players in relation to new technologies and products will be possible. Given current Chinese taxation laws do not provide special rules for Internet enterprises, these preferential taxation policies will probably only benefit small or innovative enterprises which will also enjoy preferential taxation treatment in relation to income tax and stamp duty, etc.
Lastly, according to the Guiding Opinions, the government will push forward the construction of a credit infrastructure as well as nurture the Internet financial supporting service system. The Guiding Opinions require support to be given to the construction of infrastructure in big data storage, network and information security maintenance and other technical fields; encourage Industry Players to establish credit information sharing platforms; promote the process of relevant qualified Industry Players accessing basic financial credit information databases; allow Industry Players who meet particular conditions to apply to be licensed to conduct credit investigation business; support qualified credit intermediaries to carry out credit ratings of Internet enterprises to enhance transparency; and encourage accounting, audit, legal, consulting and other service intermediaries to provide relevant professional services to Internet enterprises. Under such provisions, the Industry Players will be able to conduct credit investigations on its customers more easily and effectively. This will be of great significance to the online lending companies, because the profitability of many Internet finance products, especially the P2P products, relies mainly on the credit of the individuals.