Ant Financial Looks to Inject $1 Billion into Asian Tech Startups
The Alibaba-backed firm supports global expansion with investments.
Ant Financial has started raising $1 billion for a fund focused on Southeast Asia and India. The fintech arm of Alibaba is looking to expand its presence across the growing region.
Deal Street Asia reported that Ji Gang, Ant Financial’s vice-president, revealed plans for the fund at a conference in Beijing. The new fund will provide late-stage funding for startup companies. During the conference, Ji said that Ant Financial has backed 160 companies over five years. The new fund will focus on the strategic businesses of Ant – including online payments.
“Ant Financial is different from traditional financial investors since we specialize in investments centered around the strategic business of the company, including those relevant to Alipay that focuses on payment verticals and technologies,” Ji said at the conference.
Ant Financial Builds Its Presence
The two major internet companies have created a digital arms race across the Asian market. Alibaba has invested in nearly 350 tech startups to expand its reach. Rival Tencent, however, has stakes in more than 700 firms, according to the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Ant’s investments in Chinese tech include Hellobike, Alipay, and Meinian Onehealth. The firm has placed a big focus on payments as it support’s Alibaba’s global expansion. Ant Financial currently owns two major payment companies around the globe: helloPay in Singapore and UK-based WorldFirst. It also has a large stake in Paytm, an India-based payments firm.
Finally, Ji said at the conference that the firm’s investment strategy centers around “BASIC” technologies. BASIC is an acronym for blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), security, internet of things (IoT) and computing.
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