Ant eyes rich potential in Thailand marketmove
Mobile payment service operator Alipay aims serving half nation’s netizens
Ant Financial Services Group, the operator of China’s most used mobile payment service Alipay, on Tuesday announced its move into Thailand, aiming to serve half of Thailand’s netizens in the next five years as it speeds up its overseas expansion.
Ant Financial signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Thailand’s Ascend Money, an arm of agriculture-totelecoms conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group. Under the agreement, the financial affiliate of Alibaba GroupHolding Ltd will invest in AscendMoney.
Ascend Money will copy Alipay’s service such as offline e-payment and micro loan so that the Thais could use their mobile phone to pay for shopping, dining, calling a cab, and public utility.
The move in Thailand is part of Ant Financial’s global expansion plan to serve 2 billion customers in the next 10 years.
In addition to focusing on facilitating Chinese Alipay users making payments in Thailand, Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, said at the ceremony inHong Kong that the nation’s market also offers “vast untapped potential”.
E-payment now accounts for only 10 percent of all payment methods in Thailand, according to Ant Financial. Its goal is to provide innovative financial services to over 100 million customers and SMEs in Thailand and Southeast Asia by 2020.
Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, CEOofAscend Group, said 80 percent of Thais do have bank account but more than 60 percent of them are underbanked, the group which he believes offers the biggest opportunity.
He explained these people are not qualified for loans, investment or insurance products from banks, so products directly targeting them are in the pipeline, starting from lending to SMEs.
By October, Ant Financial’s overseas users had reached approximately 200 million, about 30 percent of its total users, but 150 million are users of Paytm, a leading e-wallet in India. Ant Financial joined forces with the Indian company in early 2015 and one year later, the number of Paytm users had surged from 20 million to 150 million.
Li Zhefeng, an analyst at iResearch Consulting Group, told China Daily that China’s e-payment companies, including Ant Financial and WeChat, a popular messaging app with payment functions, are entering the international market because their growth in China is slowing down.
Ant Financial’s Alipay had 3.7 million downloads in September, up by 18.7 percent from 3.1 million in January, while its growth last year is more than 40 percent, according to iResearch.
Alipay’s downloads in September
Alibaba’s founderJack Ma (second from left) and Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman and CEO of CP Group, at the launch of the partnership between Ant Financial Services Group and Ascend Money on Tuesday in Hong Kong.