Ant Financial is more than just a financial tool

Ant Financial Service Group has recently raised $14 billion in what is believed to be the world’s largest-ever single fundraising. The company has gained attention from global media and capital markets. But the as the company offers a plethora of financial and mobile payment tools, one may ask, is it a financial company or a technology company?

At TechCrunch Hangzhou 2018, Hu Xi, Deputy CTO of Ant Financial and Partner of Alibaba group, spoke about Ant Financial and the company future plans for globalization.

Hu says that Ant Financial Service Group currently has about 63% of the technical personnel, which includes those in research and development, AI, algorithms, data, and key decision makers. Nearly 25% of the technical staff focuses on building fundamental infrastructure.

The company’s president and co-president who lead the company’s two global-facing business units that people are more familiar with—Alipay and Ant Financial—are both from the technical background. From this point of view, the company can be regarded as a technology-driven company, said Hu.

For example, “Double 11” (Singles’ Day), one of China’s largest online shopping festival, has brought on great challenges for the financial business and payment to provide users with reliable, sustainable, stable and secure shopping experience. It requires high-tech solutions to support 256,000 transactions per second, Hu explained. The team needs to figure out how to use big data and AI to solve this problem.

Hu also mentioned the Ant Financial’s loan services for small and micro businesses was initially a solution to provide loan services to buyers on Taobao. Eventually, the company used big data and AI algorithms to achieve something called the “310” model: 3 minutes to apply for credit, 1 second to approve, and 0 people involved in the decision.

Hu Xi, Deputy CTO of Ant Financial and Partner of Alibaba group, speaking at TechCrunch Hangzhou 2018. (Image Credit: TechNode)

Ant Financial Services Group expects to serve more than 1000 financial institutions in the next three to five years, and accelerate the pace of opening up all Ant Financial Services Group businesses including Ant Check Later and Yu’e Bao and so on. “Ant Financial Services Group’s first mission, vision, was to use technology to address inequality in this society,” said Hu Xi.

Ant Financial Services Group has been open to the outside world since 2015 and has gradually launched the Internet Propulsion Program. The company expects to serve more than 1000 financial institutions in the next three to five years. And accelerate the pace of Ant Financial Services Group including loans, micro-loans, and Yu’e Bao. In addition, they want to open up some of the traditional trade-related capabilities and risk-control AI capabilities.

“Ant Financial Services Group’s first mission and vision are to use the idea of technology to address inequality in society,” Hu Xi says.

What is the core capability of the financial industry in the field of digital finance?

  • How to reach the users
  • How to solve the risk problem in a better way
  • The most important problem is the trust problem. The core ability of Ant Financial Services Group in financial aspects, including payment, wealth, insurance and small and microloans.
  • Resolve trust, security, and reliability issues. Blockchain is the solution to this problem, so the first layout is blockchain technology.
  • The company expects to serve 2 billion users in the next 5 to 10 years, but Ant Financial Services Group staff is less than 10, 000. From big data to AI, there needs to be a more efficient way to serve customers.
  • Besides blockchain and AI, the capability at the core of financial services is security. How to provide customers with better safety wind control. The biggest challenge in the digital world is identification, which includes data privacy, encryption protection, and security.
  • IoT—to better connect users and to link up the digital world and the real world. Transportation services and fare payment is also an area to tap into.
  • Computing capability, not just cloud computing, but capable of providing financial computing capabilities, which should be trusted and reliable.

Serving 2 billion consumers

Ant Financial Services Group is expected to serve 2 billion consumers around the world. The biggest problem is: how to go overseas?

“A lot of people have mentioned blockchain-based remittance,” Hu said Ant Financial’s latest effort to expand overseas is the new blockchain-based cross-border remittance service that is capable of sending money from Hong Kong the o Philippines in less 3 seconds. Hu said Ant financial is working with local partners to expand their services globally.

“We have a strategy to win together with local partners. They have a good local financial license. The whole compliance process is very strict and formal, cooperating with them, giving them empowerment, forming a service mode. We hope to win together with our partners and give them the skills of technology,” Hu concluded.