Beijing – When Jia Xinru needed to borrow money to buy new clothes, order food and buy a projector to screen Breaking Bad on her wall, she had instant access to China’s growing number of lenders via her mobile phone. The 24-year-old secretary is among millions of Chinese who have turned to proliferating online companies that dish out quick loans – and are worrying the country’s leadership. On Friday authorities issued new rules on microlending, designed to protect consumers and limit risk for creditors. The move was the latest aimed at tackling financial risks as the world’s number-two economy faces ballooning debt that has drawn warnings of a potential global financial crisis. While most economists and analysts have focused their concerns on corporate debt, household debt has risen rapidly, roughly doubling since 2012, according to the Bank for International Settlements, known as the central banks’ central bank. And smartphones have made it even easier for consumers to borrow cash in China, with ecommerce apps and mobile payment increasingly prevalent. Jia started accumulating her debt when she was in college, turning to tech titan Alibaba when she could not get a credit card. The ease of a few taps on her phone and a wait led Jia to borrow and borrow and when she was finally able to take out a card, she used it to repay Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial. Read more here…

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