Alibaba’s Ant Financial to invest US$200m in Korea’s Kakao Pay

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 9:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 9:51pm

Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group Holding, will invest US$200 million in South Korea’s Kakao Pay as the company seeks to further the global expansion of its services.

Kakao Pay, the mobile payments unit of popular South Korean messaging app Kakao Corp, will be spun off as a Kakao subsidiary in April this year.

Kakao Pay users currently can register their credit or debit cards with the service and conduct transactions via a passcode. The partnership between Kakao and Ant Financial will also allow Kakao Pay users to make payments on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall in the future, according to the company. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

The partnership also means that the 450 million users of Alipay, Ant Financial’s third-party payments platform, will be able to use the app to pay at over 34,000 merchants in South Korea.

Ant Financial to raise US$3 billion in debt to fund expansion

“South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments,” said Douglas Feagin, president of Ant Financial International.

The deal is the latest in a string of global partnerships and investments by Ant Financial. In January, Ant Financial announced its acquisition deal with US-based money transfer provider MoneyGram International, and this week said it made an undisclosed investment in Mynt, a financial venture of Philippines’ Globe Telecom.

Last November, the company also formed a strategic partnership with Thailand’s e-payments provider Ascend Money to provide services to the Thai market. Other investments include US$680 million in India’s Paytm as it looks to gain a foothold in the country’s mobile e-commerce landscape.

Ant Financial’s deals point towards its ambitious goal to serve two billion Alipay users globally within the next decade. Currently, its financial network covers several regions and over 70 countries worldwide, including the US, Britain, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and several countries in Southeast Asia.