Chinese authorities have given Alibaba affiliate Ant Group the green light to release its artificial intelligence (AI) products to the public, a spokesperson for the firm said on Monday.
Ant, which is emerging from Beijing’s three-year-long regulatory crackdown, said it has received government approval to release products powered by its “Bailing” AI large language model to the public.
The firm had unveiled a finance-specific AI model in September which, it said, had begun closed tests of the two apps on the company’s wealth management and insurance platforms.
The apps include Zhixiaobao 2.0 app, which is designed to give consumers financial tips. It can match the average financial professional in market analysis and reasoning capability, Ant had said.
The other app, Zhixiaozhu 1.0, can conduct investment analysis and information extraction, among other business tasks, for financial professionals, it added.
The foray by Ant into financial AI is notable as the company founded by billionaire Jack Ma is China’s biggest fintech firm, with more than 1 billion users worldwide for its Alipay payment app.
Approval from Chinese authorities is also significant for Ant, given the unchecked growth of its financial services was a major trigger of the regulatory crackdown on the fintech firm in 2020.
That regulatory crackdown had quickly expanded to the entirety of China’s technology industry, wiping $1.1 trillion off of the market value of five of the biggest Chinese tech firms.
However, Beijing has quickly shifted its approach amid an assault of US sanctions on its technology industry and an economic slowdown that has curbed inflows from traditional sources, such as the real estate sector.
View this post on Instagram
Beijing oversight on rapidly expanding market
China has since also taken the lead in the regulation of AI, while most nations across the world still look to finalise rules to manage the exploding industry.
Unlike other countries, China requires companies to submit security assessments and wait for official clearance before releasing AI products to the public.
Five Chinese tech firms, including Baidu and SenseTime, received approval to launch their AI chatbots to the public in late August.
According to Chinese media, a total of 11 firms had received approvals from the government to launch their AI products to the public, including Baidu, SenseTime, TikTok owner ByteDance and Tencent.
By July in China, more than 130 companies had introduced “large language models”, the type that powers OpenAI’s seminal ChatGPT generative AI app, according to Tencent.
Ant affiliate Alibaba had also unveiled an AI model Tongyi Qianwen in April, which it rolled out to the public in September. Tongyi Qianwen is a large language AI model, similar to ChatGPT.
Last week, the firm announced an upgrade to the model – the Tongyi Qianwen 2.0. Alibaba’s cloud computing arm said the updated model has “hundreds of billions of” parameters – a benchmark used to measure AI model power – making it one of the world’s most powerful AI models by that metric.
It also said it has launched eight AI models for the entertainment, finance, healthcare and legal industries.
Alibaba shares saw gains of more than 2% on Monday.
- Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena