Alibaba's Ant Financial invests $200m in Kakao Pay

Ant Financial is ramping up its investment activity, with its latest target being South Korean mobile payments solution Kakao Pay.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Alibaba's financial services arm Ant Financial (Ant) is investing $200 million in Kakao Pay, the mobile payments solution from South Korean messenger maker Kakao.

Ant, which operates Alipay, has more than 450 million users globally, while Kakao Pay currently has around 14 million users. Kakao Talk, however, is installed on more than 99 percent of smartphones in South Korea, making it the country's dominant messaging app.

"South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments," said Douglas Feagin, president of Ant Financial International, in a statement.

Kakao shares jumped 4.48 percent to 88,500 won on Tuesday morning on the back of the announcement.

The investment aligns with Ant's strategic push to create a global network of financial assets ahead of launching its $10 billion-plus initial public offering later this year.

Just last Friday, Ant signed a deal to acquire "substantial minority stake" in Mynt, a mobile payment and credit service owned by Globe Telecom in the Philippines.

"We wish to confirm that subject to the closing of the above-mentioned transaction, the substantial minority interests of Ant Financial and GCVHI (Globe Capital Venture Holdings) may translate to 45 percent equity stake each in Mynt," Globe Telecom said in a disclosure to the Philippines Stock Exchange.

Mynt, a wholly owned subsidiary of GCVHI under Globe Telecom and Ayala Corp, operates micropayment service GCash as well as mobile loan service Fuse Lending.

In 2015, Ant invested more than $500 million for a 40 percent stake in the parent company of Indian mobile payments platform Paytm.

In late 2016, Thai fintech company Ascend Money also secured investment from Ant, though the size of Chinese firm's investment remains undisclosed.

In January this year, Ant announced an $880 million acquisition deal for US-based money transfer service MoneyGram International.

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