Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Alibaba Group, has acquired eMonkey, a multi-functional digital wallet, that would allow the subsidiary of China’s biggest e-commerce company to tap into a promising player in Asia’s payments sector.
Sources told Reuters that Ant Financial would not officially announce the takeover deal as anti-China slogans recently marked the 37th anniversary of a border war with their giant neighbor.
While the exact purchase price is unclear, eMonkey allows Ant Financial to gain a slice into Vietnam’s booming market of nearly 100 million people. Vietnam’s digital and mobile payment is also the most developed and crowded fintech segment. There are currently 30 licensed non-bank payment intermediary services in the country, with around 20 of these offering e-wallets.
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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N), China’s biggest e-commerce company, has recently acquired 33 percent of Ant Financial, which houses the Alipay payment processing system and other financial services.
The deal, which ends a profit-sharing arrangement that goes back to 2014 and was worth more than $330 million last year, clears the way for an initial public offering of China’s most valuable financial technology company. It also boosts Ant’s profile ahead of a widely expected initial public offering (IPO), though the company has neither publicly set a timetable nor chosen a stock exchange.
Ant Financial spun off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd before its 2014 listing, currently provides its financial services to nearly 1.2 billion users in China and beyond. Alipay makes up much of the business as the payment platform enables users to hail taxis, book hotels, buy movie tickets, and more, from within its app. It also gets a commission of around 0.18 percent on every dollar it processes on Alibaba’s marketplaces.