International

Alibaba, Tencent Withhold Data To Defy China’s Credit Score 

Alibaba, Tencent, Sesame, credit scoring, data, Baihang, social credit

Chinese tech titans Alibaba and Tencent are spurning the government’s private credit-scoring protocol by restricting access to customer data, The Financial Times reported on Thursday (Sept. 19).

The private credit-scoring firm Baihang was launched in March 2018 by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) in an effort to collect data on residents without a credit history. An estimated 460 million people in China may be relying on the country’s eight FinTechs to borrow money.

“We’d like to get personal information and credit data from Tencent and Alibaba,” an anonymous Baihang employee told the FT. “Names, ID and phone numbers, histories of borrowings and paybacks.”

Despite big tech’s refusal to comply, more than 700 Chinese companies are feeding information to Baihang’s credit database. Although the government gave each FinTech 8 percent shares in Baihang, only three firms are cooperating, the source told the news outlet.

“If it had been the [PBoC] itself asking for data, rather than this arm’s-length lower-level body, then perhaps they would have given it,” the former employee added. 

According to data recently released in a report by Research and Markets, the infrastructure to support social credit systems is expected to represent a nearly $13 billion global opportunity by 2024, as cameras and other optical equipment for social credit systems are poised to reach a value of $300 million globally by that year.

The report’s authors predict that by 2026, the concept of social credit systems will be entirely mainstream in the U.S. and around the world.

For example, earlier this year, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced that life insurance companies can base premiums on what they find in your social media posts. If you demonstrate a life lived on the edge, that can cost you; if you show a life of careful and healthy behavior, that might net a reward.

In China, people were blocked from buying tickets 17.5 million times last year for offenses such as unpaid taxes and fines. Consumers were also barred 5.5 million times from purchasing train tickets, and 128 people were blocked from leaving the country because of unpaid taxes.

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