Ant’s parent Alibaba kept the deal hushed over possible anti-China sentiment among the Vietnamese, three sources familiar with the matter told the newswire.
Spun-off from the Vietnamese FinTech M-Pay, eMonkey is selling less than 50 percent of its company to Ant. It is anticipated that Ant will have “significant influence” over the eWallet, one of the sources told Reuters.
The deal marks Ant’s eighth global acquisition in the payments space as the firm looks for an inroad to tap Vietnam’s nearly 100 million people, 25 percent of who are under 25.
Tech giants are attracted to Vietnam’s booming eCommerce market, but Chinese merchants have to tread carefully because of tensions between the two countries. Beijing and Hanoi have argued over several issues, like China’s economic zones and maritime claims.
“This is a hot button issue and is something that Vietnamese authorities have to balance themselves,” Nick Marro, global trade lead at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told Reuters.
“It makes sense that Chinese investors — including those who see the Vietnamese market as having a ton of consumer potential, as well as those diversifying into that country as part of the trade war — may want to keep a low profile.”
The source did not disclose the size of the deal.
Ant has a branch in Vietnam, but invested in eMonkey because it already has operating licenses from the State Bank of Vietnam.
In other Vietnamese news, conglomerate Vingroup announced on Wednesday (Dec. 18) it will be exiting from its retail business to focus on becoming a technology and industrial company.
Vingroup will shut down its eCommerce website adayroi.com by the end of the month, merging its ePayment business unit VinID with Adayroi in efforts to better position its electronics retail business.