The World's Most Innovative Companies 2017
Formerly Alipay, Ant Financial Services is a spin-off of China's Alibaba and akin to PayPal in the U.S. The organization has expanded beyond mobile wallet Alipay to include an online lending platform, MyBank, and an investment fund, Yu’e Bao.
In June 2018, Ant Financial introduced the world’s first cross-border remittance network based on blockchain. Via a partnership between its AlipayHK brand and GCash, it offers real-time money transfer between Hong Kong and the Philippines, with lower fees than traditional transfer services.
Ant Financial has also used its AI expertise to improve wealth management services and make them both more accessible and more customizable for users. In June 2018, Ant opened up its AI services for any Chinese asset managers to modernize their services. Ant’s AI-powered accounts on its Ant Fortune platform give fund managers new insights into their customers. In August 2018, Ant debuted 14 new target date retirement funds on Ant Fortune, in an effort to encourage personal savings for retirement in addition to China's pension system.
In 2016, Ant Financial pulled in a $4.5 billion round of funding and acquired face-scanning verification software EyeVerify. The company has 450 million users and processes 58% of all online payments in China. While competitor Tencent has usurped marketshare through the growth of WeChat Pay, Ant Financial remains ahead, due in part to its expansion into new financial products and regions, as well as partnerships with ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing and food-delivery service Ele.me.
In 2016, Ant Financial invested in a used car dealer, Alibaba’s online ticketing platform, a wealth management company, a food-delivery service, and major fast-food conglomerate Yum China. The company has made inroads in India by leveraging an existing partnership with Uber, so customers can use both AliPay and Paytm, a company it invested in two years ago, in lieu of a credit card to pay for rides. In Europe, Ant Financial’s agreement with German payment processing terminal Wirecard allowed it to be accepted in some retail shops. It also did wide outreach to merchants, offering them customer data in exchange for accepting Alipay. As it continues to expand outside of China, the company is gearing up to go public in 2017.