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Ant Group Boosts Global Expansion with Alipay+

Ant Group, a Chinese fintech company, is ramping up its global presence with Alipay+, its digital payment offering
May 6, 2024

Ant Group, a major player in the Chinese fintech scene, is gearing up to strengthen its global footprint through its digital offering, Alipay+. The aim is to seamlessly connect mobile payment apps worldwide.

Douglas Feagin, senior vice president of Ant Group, explained, “What we found is that people want to use their home e-wallets when they travel abroad. So they don’t want to have to load their card into another app that they don’t know as well.”

Ant International, the global arm of Ant Group, introduced Alipay+ in 2020. This service allows foreigners to utilize apps from their home countries for making payments in China by scanning QR codes of Alipay. The platform extends its functionality to other countries through local partnerships.

“We see a huge opportunity for expansion, and the relatively broad coverage we have in Asia – we would like to replicate in places like the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe,” said Feagin. “People from all these regions are going to other regions, so there's a big opportunity to expand.”

Ant Group had initially invested in country-specific e-wallets across Asia. However, the company’s CEOs decided to take their products overseas, aiming at broader markets. 

Feagin mentioned that the company had already made inroads into Europe and the U.S. through Alipay, especially targeting the booming Chinese tourism market. Now, with Alipay+, the company intends to capitalize on its early presence in these markets.

Currently, Alipay+ connects 88 million merchants in 57 countries and regions to 1.5 billion consumer accounts across more than 25 e-wallets and bank apps, according to Ant Group.

As part of its overseas business expansion, Ant Group acquired stakes in several companies, such as Singapore payments firm 2C2P in 2022 and South Korea’s Kakao Pay in 2017. The company has also partnered with national digital payment services, such as Singapore’s SGQR, Malaysia’s DuitNow QR, and South Korea’s ZeroPay.

Ant Group is not only focusing on established markets but is also expanding into emerging markets like Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Moreover, it has entered partnerships with European e-wallets Tinaba and Nexi, as well as Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East.

Despite facing regulatory challenges and geopolitical tensions, Ant Group has modified its global expansion strategy. The result is Alipay+, which aims to resolve interoperability issues for e-wallets, according to Zennon Kapron, founder and director of consultancy Kapronasia.

Feagin highlighted that Ant Group's future in China became uncertain when regulators halted its initial public offering in November 2020. Subsequently, the company had to restructure itself into a financial holding company regulated by the central bank.

However, this setback didn't deter Ant Group's global ambitions. It continues to focus on expanding its user base rapidly, targeting countries with large populations and key tourism destinations. With its eyes set on Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East markets, Ant Group is doubling down on its global expansion efforts.

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