Caixin
Mar 16, 2021 08:20 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Online Trading Platforms in Crosshairs of Market Regulator’s Latest Cleanup

The campaign comes as online trading platforms have soared in popularity with a boom in home-based shopping during the global pandemic. Photo: VCG
The campaign comes as online trading platforms have soared in popularity with a boom in home-based shopping during the global pandemic. Photo: VCG

China’s market regulator said it is creating a list of responsibilities for online trading platforms, in the latest government effort to bring order to a group of operators selling everything from cosmetics to takeout dining food.

The State Administration for Market Regulation’s latest plan aims to clean up the space and create a healthier online environment, said Wei Li, a senior official in its internet oversight office. Among other things, its new measures will clarify boundaries for when platforms should be held responsible, and strengthen regulatory oversight, he added.

Additionally, the regulator said it would strengthen its enforcement efforts when complaints arose over online trading platforms, including investigating and dealing with both major and ordinary cases in a timely way, and notifying the public on such matters.

The campaign comes as online trading platforms have soared in popularity with a boom in home-based shopping during the global pandemic. Last year, the market regulator’s complaint hotline handled more than 2 million cases involving e-commerce, about 28% of those involved trading platforms. Platform-related complaints were focused on three main types: direct broadcasters, platforms selling fresh food and ones facilitating takeout dining delivery.

Within those three areas, fresh food platforms logged the largest number of complaints, totaling 65,800. Typical grievances ran a broad range, with typical complaints covering things like poor food quality and after-sales service, as well as difficulty canceling orders once placed.

Complaints about direct broadcasters numbered 25,500 and often centered on online product peddlers’ use of exaggerated claims to pump up sales. Consumers complaints focused on issues like difficulties in returning products that failed to live up to those claims. Complaints surrounding takeout dining platforms numbered 25,818, and included grievances like lax oversight of restaurants on the platforms, as well as delivery delays.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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