In a move that was not announced due to concerns that anti-China sentiment in Vietnam could lead to potential pushback, China’s Ant Financial has quietly taken a significant share in the Vietnamese eWallet eMonkey. Ant Financial is a FinTech affiliate of the eCommerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Reuters reported.
While the fast growth of Vietnam has brought in large technology firms, Chinese companies have to operate with caution, as tensions can kindle anti-Chinese sentiment in spite of the deep economic bonds linking the nations. Ant’s strategic investment will enable the company to enter the country’s flourishing market of almost 100 million people.
Hanoi and Beijing have had conflicts regarding disputed maritime claims and apprehensions about special economic zones backed by China, which have sparked protests in Vietnam.
For its part, Ant will not control more than half of eMonkey. However, it is believed to have a large amount of influence and is expected to offer technical knowledge to the eWallet, which was made by the Vietnamese tech company M-Pay Trade. That firm also has partnerships with some of Vietnam’s biggest telecom firms and banks.
In separate news, reports surfaced in November that China’s Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial was drumming up $1 billion to fund startups in India as well as Southeast Asia. The FinTech firm is reportedly eyeing new firms in emerging markets that have an online financing and payments focus.
At the Beijing 2019 Global Young Entrepreneurs Conference, Ji Gang, vice president of Ant Financial, reportedly told those in attendance that his firm was “looking to raise a fund,” but didn’t offer details. Gang outlined the three types of companies Ant seeks to fund at the conference.
The company seeks mature firms with C funding, companies with “a relatively high valuation” and early startups that it can finance with cooperation. Over the past five years, the Chinese firm has invested in 160 firms. Ant Financial and its local eWallet partners had roughly 1.2 billion users worldwide as of June.