Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, announced a four-pronged global expansion strategy on Tuesday, as it doubles down on the overseas market via a new office in Singapore.
Ant International, the international business unit of Ant Group, which has its headquarters in the city-state, said it will boost “digital payment and digital commerce” through Alipay+, its cross-border mobile payment service for merchants and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Alipay+, the linchpin of the fintech giant’s overseas expansion, now connects more than 88 million merchants to 1.5 billion user accounts on over 25 e-wallets and banking apps in 57 countries and regions, according to data released by Ant International at its Voyage Conference in Singapore on Tuesday.
The other three prongs of the company’s global expansion include a merchant payment service called Antom, a platform to help SMEs conduct cross-border trade known as WorldFirst, as well as ANEXT Bank, a Singapore-based digital wholesale bank.
The move underscores the fintech giant’s efforts to broaden its footprint in Asia and beyond, as the company is entering a growth phase after the dust has settled on Beijing’s two-year crackdown on the technology sector.
“Despite uncertainties in the global economy, trends like evolving financial infrastructure, accelerating digitalisation and swift advances on the tech frontier present unprecedented opportunities for merchants all across the world to achieve new growth, especially for small businesses that aspire to overcome the digital divide,” Yang Peng, president of Ant International, said at the conference.
Ant International, previously known as the international business group of Ant Group, is playing a key role in the overseas expansion of the Alibaba affiliate. Alibaba also owns the South China Morning Post.
In September, the group announced it would set up a new office in Singapore, including the headquarters of Ant International, to focus on international business and technology segments.
Ant International said it aims to help global merchants to “engage digitally with consumers in Asia and beyond” through its Antom Merchant Payment Services, a new initiative revealed to the public for the first time on Tuesday. No further details were given.
Meanwhile, WorldFirst, a UK-based foreign exchange platform that was acquired by Ant Group in 2019, announced plans to roll out digital e-commerce finance solutions beyond Singapore to Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
“Together with our partners, we will build enduring local commitments to bring the world more,” said Yang.
With the easing of Beijing’s tech sector crackdown, Ant has been significantly stepping up its overseas drive this year, mostly through its Alipay+ payment network.
In September, it announced an expansion of Alipay+ to South Korea. Tourists using digital payment apps in the Alipay+ network – including the mainland China and Hong Kong versions of Alipay – can pay at shops and restaurants in South Korea by scanning the quick-response (QR) codes of ZeroPay, a local e-wallet. Alipay+ earlier this year also collaborated with public QR code systems in Malaysia and Singapore.