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China unveils guidelines for online third-party payment service providers

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BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Tuesday published its long-awaited guidelines for e-commerce third-party payment service providers in a bid to regulate a rapidly developing business-to-consumer (B2C) industry that processes about six times as many transactions as world retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The 16-page publication aims to create a "fair, honest and safe" transaction platform for the country's online retailers and shoppers, Jiang Zengwei, vice minister of commerce, told a forum on China's e-commerce industry that opened on Tuesday in Beijing.

The MOC's guidelines echoed an ongoing campaign by the Chinese government to crack down on activities related to copyright infringement and the production and sale of fake and counterfeit products nationwide.

The guidelines spelled out the roles and principles of online business participants, consumers and third-party payment service providers.

The guidelines ordered third-party payment service providers whose daily transactions exceed 100 million yuan (15.3 million U.S. dollars) to establish a backup system in multiple locations in case of a disaster.

The guidelines also stipulate that an e-commerce third-party payment service provider should not sell its own business over the platform through which it serves other B2C participants.

Under the guidelines, online third-party payment service providers must store their online transaction data for at least two years, and must not disclose this online transaction data to a third party except as otherwise stipulated by law.

China has the world's highest number of Internet users, with about 457 million netizens, among whom 148 million were active online shoppers as of the end of last year.

China's B2C transactions topped 4 trillion yuan (611 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, compared to Wal-Mart's total revenue of 116.3 billion U.S. dollars, according to the MOC.

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