Ant Financial expands reach with $200m investment in Kakao Pay

Ant Financial continues to expand its reach outside of China with a $200m investment in South Korean mobile giant Kakao’s finance subsidiary Kakao Pay.

Spun out of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ant Financial operates payments service Alipay as well as the online retailer’s digital banking capabilities.

Already serving 450 million users globally, Ant Financial will now also offer digital financial services through Kakao Pay.

Kakao Talk, the firm’s messaging service, counts 48 million users and is installed on as many as 95% of South Korean smartphones.

Last month the company’s board decided to spin out its fintech division under the Kakao Pay banner.

Having already attracted 14 million members to Kakao Pay, the company will look to expand the services it offers, including loans and financing, through Ant Financial.

The deals follows an undisclosed investment by Ant Financial in Mynt, the fintech subsidy of Filipino mobile operator Globe Telecom’s Globe Capital Venture Holdings (GCVHI), as the $60bn-valued firm continue to extend its reach beyond China.

Ant Financial’s president Douglas Feagin said: “South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments.

“Given Kakao’s leading mobile platform offering and vast customer base, we believe we can bring Ant Financial’s broad experience in digital payments and technology-driven financial services to offer exciting and innovative products to South Korean customers.”

Kakao Pay’s CEO-elect Young-Joon Ryu, who currently heads up Kakao’s fintech division, added: “The combination of Ant Financial’s global payment platform Alipay and numerous financial and commerce service networks and Kakao’s platform capabilities will result in more effective and convenient financial solutions for both businesses and consumers.”

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