Ant Group & Global Digital Finance Platforms

In this episode of Looking Back Looking Forward – the last of 2020 – Professor Douglas Arner discusses how COVID-19 has driven digitisation of finance to new levels, marking the emergence of FinTech 4.0. In finance, the impact of COVID-19 on digitisation can be seen in dramatic increases in e-commerce and digital communications, with particularly dramatic increases in: 1) electronic payment and digital currencies; 2) regulatory technology (RegTech); 3) non face-to-face transactions, and 4) data and concentration. FinTech 4.0 is characterised by the emergence of increasingly dominant digital finance platforms benefiting from network effect and economies of scope and scale while integrating finance and technology. The best example is China’s Ant Group and the dramatic halt of its IPO – which would have been the world’s largest – by Chinese regulators in November 2020 as a result of the fact that these platforms bring not only benefits but also huge new risks and concerns.

These concerns and possible approaches are highlighted in a new paper: ‘Digital Finance Platforms: Toward a New Regulatory Paradigm’, available at:

For more information on the University of Hong Kong’s financial technology programme, visit and discover the transformation of information technology’s ever-growing impact on finance.