Alibaba's financial subsidiary Ant Financial reportedly plans to acquire a 20% stake in Ascend Money, an electronic payment and small loan company in Thailand, to expand its market in Southeast Asia.
A statement from the official website of Ministry of Commerce of China revealed that Ant Financial also hopes to gain options to increase its shareholding of Ascend Money to 30%. The Ministry is currently reviewing this acquisition proposal.
Ascend Money is the parent company of electronic payment company True Money and individual and enterprise finance company Ascend Nano. True Money provides debit cards and electronic wallets and it has a financial service license in several important markets in Southeast Asia. Ascend Nano is a provider of small loans and personal loans. With employees all over Southeast Asia, the company aims to expand its e-commerce and e-payment services to regions where many people do not have bank accounts, such as Myanmar and Indonesia.
With the investment in Ascend Money, Ant Financial will be able to improve its online payment and small loan businesses in Southeast Asia.
Ant Financial's current valuation is reportedly about USD60 billion and the company is expanding around the world. It already entered countries like South Korea and India. Ant Financial previously gained a payment bank license in India via Paytm, the largest payment service provider in the country. By January 2016, Paytm had about 122 million users. In South Korea, Ant Financial applied for an Internet bank license via SK Telecom and the application has obtained preliminary approval.