By Rahil Bhagat for Forbes Asia
This latest influx of cash is the largest private-funding round for any internet company and according to some sources, the company is now valued at around $60 billion.
According to Ant Financial, “this new round of funding will support Ant Financial in its goal to expand access to financial services in China’s rural areas, while also fueling the company’s globalization.”
The company also added that the capital raised in the Series B round will be invested partly in further development of the company’s cloud computing infrastructure and biometric verification technologies.
Established in October 2014, Ant Financial has grown from Alipay, which provides payment services for e-commerce marketplaces, to become a comprehensive and open ecosystem providing financial services ranging from payments, wealth management and insurance to micro loans for small and micro enterprises and individual consumers.
Services like Ant Financial fall under the banner of FinTech, basically financial technology, a term that represents the modern internet-based solutions to what used to be a very manual banking and commerce practice.
A big focus of the FinTech community has been the topic of financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, more than 2 billion people around the world have no access to banking and financial services and FinTech hopes to use the ever-increasing ubiquity of the internet to fix this. Most of these people live in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Right now, Ant Financial has an active base of some 450 million people, which is more than the population of the United States and the United Kingdom combined and the company has already started to expand out of China into India where it has teamed up with Paytm, the country’s largest mobile wallet provider to service Indian customers.
In rural China alone, Ant Financial provides payment, insurance and wealth management services to over 140 million users in rural China, many of whom have limited access to financial services. As of the end of March 2016, MYbank, established by Ant Financial in June 2015, and Ant Micro Loan had collectively provided micro loans to over 20 million small and micro businesses and individual entrepreneurs.
First appeared at Forbes