U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday banning the Alipay payment platform and seven other apps with links to the Chinese, saying the apps can access private information from their users.
Separately, U.S. officials are considering banning U.S. citizens from investing in Alibaba Group, an affiliate of Alipay’s parent, and Tencent Holdings, people familiar with the matter told Dow Jones. No decision has been made while agencies debate the possible effect on the markets, the sources said.
Tuesday’s executive order bans transactions using CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office and Alipay, which is the payments platform owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co.
The crackdown comes ahead of China’s launch of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), which is thought to have influenced China’s own crackdown on Ant Financial and other Jack Ma companies.
In October, speaking at an event in Shanghai Ma criticized China’s financial system and its state-dominated banking sector, “We shouldn’t use the way to manage a train station to regulate an airport,” said Ma, “We cannot regulate the future with yesterday’s means.”
Since making the comments Ma has been keeping a low profile and his Ant Group initial public offering has been suspended by regulators.
Industry watchers have said the People’s Bank of China is using the digital yuan as part of a broader effort to curb the growth of Alipay and WeChat Pay.