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Ant Financial backtracks and apologizes over default signup

Ant Financial apologized for not providing an obvious opt-out to review their credit service history for users signing up to view their 2017 Alipay spends.

Ant Financial apologized for not providing an obvious opt-out option from displaying their Zhima Credit information and credit situation in the past year for Alipay users to view their 2017 spending history.

Part of Alipay's annual spending history, a service which went online yesterday, includes credit history, so users were signed up to allow Alipay to display the credit history by Zhima Credit by default, with no obvious way of opting out.

In an updated version of the service late last night, users were no longer forced to opt in by default to the terms to show their credit situation.

"We have used a very stupid way of informing users that only by agreeing to the Zhima Credit terms can their credit history be included in their annual Alipay bill, and we apologize for creating upset and panic for users," Zhima Credit's statement said.

The acquiring and analysis of the consumer data accumulated through Zhima Credit is also strictly in line with relevant rules and regulations, and no user data would be mishandled and overly collected, it added.

"We understand a lot of users are concerned about their data privacy and information security, which is also our bottom line," it said.

Most users complained that they only want to see their total annual spend on Alipay, with no idea their credit history would be collected and displayed.

Yue Shenshan, a partner at Beijing Yuecheng Law Firm and one of the first social media users to expose Alipay's failure to properly inform consumers, wrote on his microblog yesterday that consumers should have the right to opt-in or opt-out, which is stipulated by the Consumer Protection Law, and Internet service providers should inform users of the terms of agreement in an immediately noticeable way.

Users will not automatically become Zhima Credit users whether they opt to view their credit history or not, and those who wish to shut down the service completely could call the service hotline to de-register and to have their credit data deleted.

By accumulating and analyzing users' online purchasing and payment history on its own platform and those of its business partners', Zhima Credit is aimed at providing those with no personal credit history with more access to financial services and other services that require security deposits, such as bike or house rental. 

An Ant Financial official explained that once users delete their Zhima Credit data, they will not be able to use the service again even if they opt in later on. This mechanism prevents users from deliberately hiding negative credit history.


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