Business 13 June 2018Erik Gibbs
Alibaba’s Ant Financial picks up $14B for blockchain development
Ant Financial, the Alibaba subsidiary behind mobile payment service Alipay, has 14 billion reasons to celebrate. In a recent release by the company, Ant Financial announced that it had received “definitive agreements” for $14 billion in investments from investors. According to the company, the funds will help the company increase its technological and blockchain innovation.
Ant Financial, recently valued at $150 billion, will use the investments, in part, to develop Alipay’s blockchain, as well as for artificial intelligence (AI) and security innovation and for technological advances for the Internet of Things (IoT). Alipay, which has replaced PayPal as the leading application for mobile payments, is developing a program to offer financial services to customers who don’t have access to, or who have limited access to, banks and to small enterprises across the globe.
The investments, which were received during a Series C funding round, come from several of the firm’s existing investors in its home country of China and abroad. The funding was overseen by China International Capital Corporation, Citi Group, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.
Eric Jing, CEO and executive chairman of Ant Financial, said the funds will be used to build “an open ecosystem… [and to invest] in technology and innovation in order to serve unmet financial needs of people everywhere and to enable them to benefit from the development of the digital economy.”
Ant Financial has been a supporter of blockchain innovation for years. In 2016, it saw the implementation of the technology in some of its accounting operations and last year began hiring a number of blockchain experts. Jing indicated at the time that Alipay would adopt the blockchain on an expanded level and said that the Alipay application could eventually adopt the technology as its primary protocol.
Ant Financial is an arm of Jack Ma-founded Alibaba Group Holding. Ma is reported to be the wealthiest person in Asia with an estimated net worth of around $41.8 billion. Ma, like Jing, is a fan of blockchains and has repeatedly espoused the virtues of the technology. However, he has also said that he’s dubious about Bitcoin and has stated that the cryptocurrency is only a bubble.
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