What happened: An executive from Ant Financial, the operator of mobile payment platform Alipay, has called for an “open-minded, albeit prudent approach” to Libra, the new cryptocurrency project Facebook announced last week. Zhang Hui, director of Ant Financial’s blockchain department, said yesterday the company is paying close attention to its development. Blockchain technology will have a major impact on the world’s financial services and businesses in the future, he said.
Why it’s important: Facebook’s cryptocurrency project is attracting global attention—including from China, which has outlawed cryptocurrency trading and blocked Facebook. Ant Financial is the latest Chinese tech company to express views on Libra, following Tencent CEO Pony Ma’s comments last week. Meituan CEO Wang Xing hailed Libra as “a genius design.” Some industry watchers see Libra as Facebook’s answer to digital payment platforms widely used in China. Ant Financial is a major blockchain player in China and has been investing heavily in R&D for the technology and applications, particularly in public services.