Alipay operator Ant Financial, which is currently the most valuable fintech firm in the world, will start to focus on technology solutions rather than finance and payments services, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Alibaba-affiliated business opted for the shift as China increases its regulatory constraint on Ant’s financial services, which include payments, wealth management, micro-lending, and credit rating. It means that the Hangzhou-based company will invest more in technologies including blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing among others.
The sources said that Jack Ma’s fintech company would move towards tech within the next few years. Company’s confidential predictions show that in five years from now, technology services’ contribution will reach 65% of Ant Financial’s revenue, which is more than twice than the 2017 level. On the other side, payments’ contribution to revenue will drop from about 54% to 28%, while financial services will decline from 11% to 6%. According to the projections, revenue is expected to grow at 40% each year through 2021.
Ant Financial has reached immense proportions in a country that boasts the largest population in the world. In light of this, the government wants to ensure that its growing size doesn’t present risks to China’s economy in case it fails.
“As a non-bank, non-state-owned institution in China, it’s not allowed to independently grow too big to manage,” stated one of the sources.
Another source pointed out that it’s early to anticipate a successful shift for Ant, which still has to decide on how to leverage innovative technologies like blockchain and AI.
Last year, we reported that Ant Financial was betting on blockchain and smart contracts to help facilitate rental property management.
In March 2018, Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing called the distributed ledger technology, “the cornerstone of trust for the digital society in the future.”
Last year, out of all blockchain patents filed worldwide, China accounted for almost half of them, with Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) being the second leading patent holder and the first among enterprises. All of Alibaba’s 43 blockchain-related patents came from Ant Financial.
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