Ant Financial, the company that operates the Alipay online and mobile payment system, launched by Alibaba in 2004, is seeking to raise $1 billion for an investment fund dedicated to Indian and Southeast Asian startups.
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Startups to support
The world’s largest Fintech company, which has completed a $14 billion round of financing in June 2018, amounting $150 billion, is now seeking to support more startups specializing in payments and financial services.
In addition to Alipay, a QR code payment system, Ant Financial is offering an asset management application (Ant Fortune), online banking for SMEs (MYbank), a credit score analysis service (Zhima Credit) and a remote IT storage service for financial companies (Ant Financial Cloud). The company claimed 1.2 billion active users worldwide last June.
Ant Financial, owned by billionaire Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is looking to find new growth opportunities outside its domestic market where it is growing at a slower pace and is facing its major rival Tencent, the WeChat Pay operator. The Chinese company is hoping to obtain a digital banking license from the Singapore Monetary Authority (MAS), known worldwide for its initiatives to promote financial innovation.
Investments in startups
In addition, the Chinese company has made nearly 160 investments in startups in the region, including 100 in the last two years. Among these equity investments is the Indian company Paytm, which has just seen its valuation rise to $16 billion, making it the country’s largest unicorn (unlisted company valued at over $1 billion).
Fintech is moving to Asia
The latest market studies are showing that Fintech’s nerve center is tending to move from the United States to Asia. “Southeast Asia reached new annual highs with $701 million invested in 87 transactions in the third quarter of the year”. Of the 100 most promising Fintech companies, 42 are located in Asia Pacific. And of the top ten, seven are Asian”.
The internet finance company is looking to back more startups in the region that are focusing on payments and online finance. Ant Financial Vice President Ji Gang said that his company was looking to raise a fund, but didn’t specify the amount nor potential targets, according to a blogpost by the conference organizers. Ant Financial declined to comment in an emailed statement.
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