The People's Bank of China has published a notice that requires all non-financial organizations engaged in payment and settlement businesses in China, including Internet platforms such as Alipay, to fully register under the new guidelines before July 31, 2009.

Though PBOC says the registration results will only be used as references of making relevant policies and will not be taken or explained as an administrative licensing decision for the payment and settlement businesses of designated non-financial organizations, there might be worries that PBOC may start to regulate the payment and settlement businesses of these organizations.

This registration requirement is reportedly covering all kinds of payment and settlement businesses, including online payment; the issuance and settlement of e-currency; the interbank clearing of notes; the interbank clearing of bank cards; and other payment and settlement businesses approved by PBOC.

Online payment platforms and e-currencies, including Alibaba's online payment subsidiary Alipay, loan guarantee service provider Property and Credit, and Tencent's e-currency Q coin, are all covered in the range of registration.

PBOC is currently cooperating with China Banking Regulatory Commission and China's Ministry of Finance to formulate management methods of the payment and settlement businesses of non-financial organizations and the focus of the methods is to regulate non-financial organizations that are involved in the Internet payment and settlement businesses.

PBOC states this action aims to hold the information of these non-financial organizations, improve the management policies of the payment service market, and protect the legal rights and interests of the public. PBOC's Shanghai headquarters, its branches and business management departments, and its central branches in provincial capitals will be in charge of the registration.

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