The name might indicate something small, but Ant Financial is anything but. The spinoff of Alibaba is valued at over $50 billion and plans to raise a heap more, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As China’s highest-valued internet finance company, Ant Financial Services Group will raise 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) on a valuation of $50 million, according to investors. This estimation varies by about $10 billion — Techcrunch pegs it at $60 billion, for example — but in any case the round is expected to close by mid-April.
Regardless, the valuation exceeds the market capitalization of all but the largest banks.
This ups the ante for Ant Financial’s imminent public offering, expected in early 2017, possibly on a Chinese stock exchange. Ant Financial is best known for its affiliating with Alipay. As China’s largest online payments service, Alipay boasts 500 million users with 200 million credit cards. Another Ant business is Sesame Credit Scoring, which addresses a major issue in China, an emerging middle class that is largely un-scored.
Over the past few years observers in Silicon Valley and the West at large have found Alibaba’s innovation and success confounding and astounding, and not in that order. In January of last year we took note of Alibaba’s huge ambitions. Back in those days, people were still trying to describe Alibaba by analogy; at first the Amazon of China, then “the Amazon plus eBay plus PayPal of China.” The point is the so-called Four Horsemen of Fintech, that is Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple, have solid competition in Ant, and, it is sheer foolishness to dismiss the company as lacking innovation, as pundits once quipped.
A “close” competitor of Ant’s, WeBank, a unit of internet megalith Tencent Holdings Ltd., was valued at $5.5 billion at its last round of funding.
Chinese internet-finance companies benefit from a tech edge over the nation’s state banks, which aren’t so nimble. The underpinning strategy of companies like Ant Financial is to use amassed data and analytics to reduce risk for small business lending. China generally discourages such loans in favor of investments in large government-owned companies. But now these large government companies are losing business as e-commerce initiatives like JD.com and Alibaba expand into new economic frontiers.
Consumers are a growing force in China, and companies like Ant are growing along with them.2 - Readers Like This Post