Ant Financial seeks partner in Japan expansion
China’s Ant Financial Services Group said on Monday it wanted to increase operations in Japan by partnering with at least one payment firm, amid a rapid Asia expansion and a US$1.2 billion bid for US transfer service MoneyGram International.
Ant, the finance affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, has in the past few months completed strategic investments in payments ventures across Asia, including Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
“In Japan, there [is a] strong need of financial services from small and micro enterprises, and Ant is willing to share its standards and experience with local partners,” a company spokesman said.
She declined to provide a timeline for the company’s expansion plans in the world’s third-largest economy.
Ant also plans to double the number of Japanese stores that accept Alipay, the firm’s flagship payment app targeting Chinese tourists, to more than 45,000 this year.
Alipay currently operates in Japan through 10 partners, including Orix Corp, Origami Pay, Orico Corp and Jaccs.
Alipay is China’s top mobile wallet app with more than 450 million users, and features personal investment products, loans and insurance products, as well as mobile payments and e-commerce functionalities.
The company has a two-tier strategy, deploying Alipay in overseas countries as a payment method for Chinese tourists, and investing in regional payment firms with the aim of building localised services.
Last week, the company entered a second bid for US firm MoneyGram, representing a 36 per cent premium on an initial offer that US rival Euronet Worldwide threatened to derail with an unsolicited bid.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.