Briefing: Ant Financial acquires UK payments company Worldfirst

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Ant Financial Agrees to Buy U.K. Payments Firm WorldFirst – Bloomberg 

What happened: Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has agreed to acquire London-based payments company Worldfirst. The UK firm announced the deal in a memo to its clients but did not disclose the size of the acquisition. Under the terms, Worldfirst will remain independent. Worldfirst CEO Jonathan Quin said in the memo that all of the company’s current customer and account information will remain unchanged after the deal.

Why it’s important: The acquisition of Worldfirst marks Ant Financial’s first big move into the UK. The Chinese company’s ambitions for overseas expansion have encountered setbacks in other markets over the past year including in the US, making the deal an important test for the company in the international arena. Ant Financial launched its mobile payment app, Alipay, in Europe in 2016. The company announced last year that the platform would be available in 20 countries across Europe by the end of 2018.