Chinese internet giant Ant Financial Services Group is gearing up for global expansion.
The financial affiliate of Chinese online-shopping giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is signing partnerships in the US, Europe and Asia, building a global network of merchants that accept its payment services, the Wall Street Journal reports.
On Tuesday, it is set to announce a tie-up with the online-payments arm of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, people familiar with the situation said.
For now, those overseas services are aimed at a surging number of Chinese tourists who use Ant Financial’s Alipay mobile-payments application at home.
By distributing its technology platform to retailers worldwide, Ant is laying the groundwork for what could eventually be a challenge to Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc, WSJ says.
Alipay was created in 2004 to support transactions on Alibaba’s Taobao online-shopping site and grew alongside the e-commerce business.
It was later separated from Alibaba — an offshore company with foreign investors — and reincorporated as a domestic company under chairman Jack Ma’s control, after worries that new regulations could have threatened its ability to be licensed for payments.
Alipay accounts are linked to bank accounts, and users move money into Alipay to pay bills, buy movie tickets and even invest in mutual funds.
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