Alibaba payments arm aims for 2 billion users in 10 years

Ant Financial eyes sharp expansion in coming decade

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 12:25am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 12:25am

Alibaba’s payment affiliate Ant Financial is aiming to have 2 billion customers in 10 years, the chief executive of the US$60 billion firm told CNBC, adding that the Chinese giant is exploring further uses of blockchain technology.

Ant Financial runs the Alipay mobile wallet in China which has over 450 million users. But Eric Jing, the CEO of Ant Financial, said the aim is to more than quadruple that over the next decade.

“We have an ambition to be a global company,” Jing told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “So my vision (is) that we want to serve 2 billion people in the next 10 years by using technology, by working together with partners … to serve those underserved.”

Ant Financial also offers other financial services including micro finance. Jing talked up the potential of artificial intelligence and blockchain – a distributed ledger system that experts have said could make many financial processes cheaper and quicker.

When asked by CNBC if Ant Financial is looking into blockchain technologies to underpin Alipay, Jing said “definitely”.

“All these technologies will be used … to bring more, a high level of security,” Jing explained, adding that artificial intelligence and blockchain will be “deeply” integrated into Ant Financial’s operations.

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Ant Financial has already introduced blockchain technology into a charitable donation service that it owns, with the aim of allowing users to track the money they send in a more charitable way.

Last year, Ant Financial raised a record-breaking $4.5 billion at a valuation of $60 billion , according to a source with knowledge of the matter. The company has been gearing up for an initial public offering (IPO) but has yet to set a timeline for the listing.

Alibaba is the owner and publisher of the South China Morning Post.