Ant Financial Fancies Itself As A Technology Services Company

Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate, expects its core business will be technology services down the road as it expands beyond only payments.

In an interview with CNBC, Ant Financial chief executive Eric Jing said Ant Financial views itself as a technology company, and that Alipay — its digital payment service that has more than 700 million annual active users — is just the beginning of what it can do with technology.  “Ant Financial, from day one, we are positioned as a tech company. But previously we just wanted to make sure we are really using the tech to be innovative, to create examples, to redefine financial services that people can feel, can touch,” Jing said in an interview. His comments come as Ant Financial recently unveiled a new brand that is aimed at selling technology services to financial firms, including banks. Ant has been investing in advanced technologies including blockchain and wants to provide services to the financial services industry.  A source familiar with the matter told CNBC that payments represent more than 50 percent of the revenue at Ant Financial and that payments could decline as a portion of revenue in the future.

Jing told CNBC that over the long-term technology services will be the main business for the company, but that Alipay will remain the flagship product for consumers. “We want to be a platform … to benefit more people,” Jing said in the CNBC interview. He noted that focus being placed on becoming a technology services company doesn’t have to do with increased scrutiny on the part of regulators in China. He said regulators have been in a “supporting role” for Ant Financial and for FinTech companies in China.

As for an eventual initial public offering, Jing told CNBC the company hasn’t set a date for when that may happen. “We never have a timetable for that. To be honest, we are more looking at what we should be focusing on … number one, developing technologies. Number two is really using technology … to benefit more people to drive financial inclusion across the world,” Jing said. “We see a huge opportunity ahead of us … so to us, IPO in some stage is just a kind of certain development stage, it’s a natural thing, we are not positioning that as the ultimate goal. Our goal is how many users we can serve.”