The money will be used to enhance technology in an effort to expand across rural China and facilitate globalisation
Alibaba-affiliated financial services company, Ant Financial announced today it raised US$4.5 billion in a Series B round, bringing the company’s valuation to US$60 billion and in the process setting a world record for the largest funding round in the global tech industry.
China Investment Corp Capital — a subsidiary of state-owned ‘big four’ bank China Construction Bank — participated in the round as a new “strategic investors”.
Other participants were existing shareholders China Life (along with other unnamed insurance companies), China Post Group (the parent company of Postal Savings Bank of China, an Ant Financial investee), China Development Bank Capital and Primavera Capital Group.
The plan for the new round of funding is to support Ant Financial’s goal of expanding its services across rural China. It also will use the money to fuel globalisation.
“The capital raised in Series B will allow us to invest in the infrastructure, such as cloud computing and risk control, that will underpin our long-term growth in rural and international markets,” said Ant Financial President Eric Jing in an official statement.
Technically, the company plans to facilitate this expansion by invested by developing its cloud computing infrastructure and biometric verification technologies. It plans on sharing these technologies with financial institutions and banks both in China and abroad.
Ant Financial, which split from Alibaba ahead of the latter’s IPO in 2014, is best known as the the company behind Alipay (Alibaba’s alternative to PayPal). It also runs well-known platforms MYbank and Yu’e Bao.
However, since the spin-off it has broadened its scope to democratise the financial services industry. The product includes payments, wealth management, micro-loans and insurance.
“We are delighted that our strategic partners share our vision of helping those with limited access to financial services obtain the funding they need to support their livelihoods and businesses. For us this is a responsibility as well as an incredible opportunity, and we are hugely excited as we look to the future alongside our partners,” said Jing.
The company cited 140 million users of the payment, insurance and wealth management services — as well as 20 million users of MYbank and Ant Micro Loan — as proof the traction in rural China justifies further investment.
And while the company expressed an interest to launch into international markets, it does not mean the company has never strayed outside of China.
It has built a partnership with One97, the Indian company behind the mobile wallet company Paytm.
“While the capital we have raised here shows investors’ recognition of Ant Financial’s potential, it is just one more step in our mission to promote inclusive financial solutions to users across the world,” concluded Jing.
In late-February, Didi Kuaidi shocked the tech world when it announced it was once again closing in on a US$1 billion funding round. Ant Financial has just set a new standard.
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