International Finance

Alibaba’s Ant Financial to raise $1 bn to invest in SE Asia

The fund will invest in payments and fintech startups in Southeast Asia and India

China’s Alibaba Group affiliated Ant Financial Services is planning to raise around $1 billion for an investment fund that will invest in startups across Southeast Asia and India, according to media reports.

The fund, which is being raised by Ant Financial, will invest in startups in the payments and fintech space. It will help Ant Financial expand outside China as it is facing stiff competition from rivals such as Tencent in its home market.

Ant Financial vice president Ji Gang said during a Beijing conference that the company was set to raise a fund; however, he did not specify its size.

Ant Financial’s investment in startups in Asia and Southeast Asia won’t be its first. Earlier in 2015, the company bought a 25 percent stake in India’s One97, which is the parent company of India’s fintech company Paytm. Earlier this month, Paytm again raised $1 billion in a fresh round of funding with Ant Financial contributing $400 million.

According to earlier reports, Ant Financial also planned an investment of around $600 million in India’s online food delivery and restaurant app Zomato. So far, Ant Financial has invested in about 160 companies during the last five years.

The fintech unicorn recently acquired a virtual banking licence in Hong Kong and plans to apply for one in Singapore as well.

Recently, Ant Financial signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Postal Savings Bank of China. According to the agreement, both the partners will focus on areas such as digital payments, online lending, rural finance, and corporate finance. They will also set up a joint lab that will explore fintech innovations, internet security and focus on making the bank’s branches digital.

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