Ant Financial Jumps Into S. Korea With $200M Investment In Kakao Pay

Ant Financial

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has made its latest aggressive international push this week — with a $200 million investment into a fintech project belonging to Kakao, the $5 billion firm that runs Korea’s dominant messaging service.

Ant Financial — the firm that stands behind both Alipay and Alibaba’s digital banking business — will invest Kakao Pay, a coming-soon fintech application for the popular Korean chat interface.

The deal will allow Ant to proffer financial services through Kakao Pay in Korea.

Kakao Talk — the chat interface — currently is packing a punch with 48 million users and its software installed on 95 percent of the smartphones in Korea. The firm decided last month to split its financial services into a new company which will allow for such services as over-counter payments, peer-to-peer transactions, bill payment and web banking — to start.  Eventually, Kakao would also like to offer a full menu of financial services, including loans and financing.

And that expanded experience menu is where Ant's experience is particularly valuable —  Ant has done for Alipay in China everything Kakao hopes to do with Kakao Pay in Korea.  For its altruism, Ant Financial and Alibaba gain more potential customers for their eCommerce business in Korea as well as giving Chinese nationals an option to use Alipay when they are visiting Korea.

Ant Financial has been doing some serious global buying of late. It has already snapped up U.S.-based MoneyGram for $880 million, it has made recent investments in Ascend Money (Thailand) and Mynt (Philippines), and it holds an equity state in Paytm (India) and M-Daq (Singapore).

So is Alibaba/Ant financial trying to take over the world?  Hard to say — but its investments of late certainly would incline one in that direction.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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