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Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services invests in Thailand’s Ascend Money

ALIBABA’S financial affiliate Ant Financial Services said it has made a strategic investment in Thailand’s payment service provider Ascend Money, a subsidiary of Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, as a key step for the payment company to expand its overseas footprints.

The investment follows Ant Financial’s investment in India’s mobile payment service Paytm last year, as the Chinese company hopes to leverage its technology capability to boost the development of fin-tech not only in China but in overseas countries.

According to an earlier filing to the Ministry of Commerce, Ant Financial is acquiring a 20 percent stake of Ascend Money and also holds options that allow it to raise its stake to 30 percent.

Previous overseas expansions by Ant Financial have been focusing on seeing Chinese outbound travelers but will be targeting at distributing its technology infrastructure to share with overseas online and offline merchants in the future.

“We’re seeing to cooperate with local partners such as Ascend Group and Paytm and to increase Alipay merchant acceptance worldwide, and eventually aiming to serve 2 billion consumers globally in 10 years, said Eric Jing, chief executive officer of Ant Financial.

Partnership between Ascend Money and Ant Financial include cross-sharing of payment network, technology enabling with Alipay and Financial Cloud platform as well as knowledge sharing.

Ascend Group chief executive officer Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa said the two companies share the same vision to share their technology infrastructure with consumers that are not yet covered by banking services.

Ascend aims to become a leader in digital financial service in southeast Asia by 2018 and serving 10 million local consumers by 2020.

Market watchers worry however Ant Financial’s expansion plan might still face setbacks in terms of expansion in European countries where financial industry is under strict regulation.

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