Ant Financial ramps up investment in SEA with $1 billion fund

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Alibaba’s fintech-affiliate Ant Financial is looking to raise about $1 billion for its new fund to invest in startups within the region, according to a Bloomberg report on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The fintech unicorn recently ramped up its expansion efforts overseas as growth becomes more challenging in China’s cooling economy.

  • The company plans to increase its customer base to 2 billion over the next 10 years and significantly grow its users outside of China. Asia will be an important focus for the company, where it has said there is huge growth potential.

Details: With the new fund, Ant Financial is reportedly looking to invest in startups in emerging markets including Southeast Asia and India, with a focus on payments and internet finance, according to an unnamed source cited by Bloomberg, confirming an earlier DealStreetAsia report.

  • Ant Financial Vice President Ji Gang said at a conference in Beijing earlier this week that the company is raising a new fund for startups with higher valuations, but did not disclose the fund size or potential targets.
  • Ant Financial did not immediately respond to a TechNode request for comment.

Context: Ant Financial set up its investment unit five years ago and has invested in more than 160 startups, said Ji, with a majority of the deals in the past two years. These investment efforts are strategic and align with expansion efforts for Ant Financial’s payment and financial services businesses, he said.

  • Ant Financial has been expanding its footprint in Asia’s emerging markets, including India and Indonesia.
  • The company is a major stakeholder in India’s leading payment firm Paytm, in which it poured another investment worth $400 million earlier this month.
  • In October, India’s Economic Times reported that Ant Financial may be leading a $600 million funding round for online food delivery app Zomato.
  • Ant Financial said earlier this month that it plans to apply for a virtual banking license in Singapore.