Ant Financial announces global blueprint for digital financial inclusion

ant-financialAnt Financial Services Group, the company behind China’s digital payment giant Alipay, has revealed its global blueprint for promoting digital financial inclusion, and a strategic agreement with Ascend Money, the leading fintech company in Thailand. Under the agreement Ant Financial will invest in Ascend Money, which aims to accelerate the growth of a leading mobile lifestyle and digital financial services platform in Thailand and support its growth in SE Asia.

Together with Ant Financial, Ascend Money will grow its online and offline payment and financial services ecosystem and strengthen its trusted and convenient payment services for users and merchants. The deal represents Ant Financial’s first-ever investment in a Thailand-based company and demonstrates the Company’s confidence in the financial services sector in Southeast Asia. With this partnership Ant Financial, which also runs Alipay – the largest mobile lifestyle and payment app in China and beyond with over 450 million users – will provide Ascend Money with strategic and technical support for the growth of its business.

“Ascend Money’s mission is to enable everyone access to innovative financial services, leading to better lives,” said Suphachai Chearavanont, Chairman of Ascend Group. “The shared vision of financial inclusion and company values in creating opportunity and sustainability have lead us to this partnership.”

“It’s our life purpose to help the under-served, which include digital consumers and the under-banked,” added Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, CEO of Ascend Group. “Our goal is to provide innovative financial services to over one hundred million customers and SMEs in Thailand and Southeast Asia by 2020. Our partnership with Ant will help accelerate innovative financial services and platforms, enabling a strong financial services ecosystem.”

Leveraging Ant Financial’s capabilities in payment, Big Data, risk control and cloud computing capabilities, the partnership with Ascend Money will build on synergies in digital financial services in order to offer Thai consumers comprehensive and equal access to financial services. Ascend Money is Ant Financial’s first partner in Southeast Asia and second globally after Paytm in India, as the Company aims to “bring small and beautiful changes to the world”.

“Imagination, innovation and information are key to realizing Ant Financial’s goal of promoting equal access to financial services on a global platform,” Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, said. “As we aim to provide services to over two billion users in ten years, we are building an open ecosystem with our global partners. The payment market in SE Asia has vast untapped potential and we are dedicated to contributing our share to bring a greater variety of convenient and reliable financial services to small and micro enterprises and individual consumers. Ascend Money, as a leader in Thailand, is best equipped to build an innovative financial ecosystem in the country.”

Ascend Money is the leading fintech company in Thailand and Southeast Asia, operating under the TrueMoney brand for payments and Ascend Nano for lending. With its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Ascend Money operates in six countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. Ascend Money targets two under-served groups, including digital consumers with its innovative mobile wallet application and the under-banked with its massive agent network. It currently provides payment services such as domestic and international remittance, bill payment, top up services, online and offline payments and payroll services. Future services will include lending, insurance and investment.

“Ant Financial is setting its footprint worldwide, not only to provide services for its Chinese users, but to promote equal access to financial services globally,” Douglas Feagin, Senior Vice President of Ant Financial, said. “Partnerships are vital for Ant Financial’s growth and we want to work alongside companies around the world who share our missions.”

In early 2015 Ant Financial joined forces with Paytm, the world’s fourth largest e-wallet, to promote secured digital payment to local users in India. Ant Financial’s innovative technologies in payment and risk control are now supporting a mobile lifestyle, ranging from online and offline payment, mobile top-up, utility bill payments and movie ticketing, of over 150 million Indian consumers. Meanwhile, Ant Financial is working with dozens of global payment partners, including Concardis, Ingenico, Wirecard and Zapper in Europe, First Data and Verifone in North America, Paysbuy and Counter Services in Southeast Asia, Recruit in Japan and KICC and ICB in Korea.

Since late 2014, Alipay has worked closely with local merchants at popular destinations for Chinese visitors and tourists, including Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. In March 2015, Alipay was accepted at approximately 15,000 retailers in those countries and regions. By the end of September 2016, this network had expanded to over 80,000 retailers in 70 countries and regions, where restaurants, malls, duty free shops, amusement parks and O2O sharing platforms accept Alipay’s in-store and other offline payments. The network covers countries and regions including the US, UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

During the Golden Week holiday in 2016 (October 1 to 7), transaction volume processed by Alipay at overseas destinations increased by four times compared to the same period last year. The countries and regions outside mainland China with the largest number of Alipay transactions are, in order, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Germany.

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Categories: Digital Payments

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