BILLIONAIRE Jack Ma’s Ant Group is poised to pull off what could be the biggest initial public offering ever by simultaneously listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It’s said to be gunning for a valuation of $225 billion, making it the world’s fourth-largest financial company.
A 2011 offshoot of Chinese giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the firm has defined and dominates the Chinese payments market through its ubiquitous Alipay app. It also runs the giant Yu’ebao money market fund and the Huabei and Jiebei consumer lending units.
Based in Hangzhou, a sprawling metropolis south of Shanghai, its ambitions run much deeper than just finance. Here’s a thumbnail look at the business units and the challenges faced by the firm.
Alipay: A $17 Trillion Machine
The world’s largest digital payment platform was created in 2004 as an escrow service for Alibaba to secure transactions on the e-commerce site. For consumer wary about online payments, the service was a hit and quickly spread to other platforms.–The Star