Alipay continues regional expansion as speculation of IPO plans begin to resurface
Ant Group is continuing to grow its Alipay+ digital payment service across Asia, with a significant new deal integrating it into Singapore’s unified QR system, as speculation about its much-lauded IPO kicks off again.
Alipay+ is the cross-border digital payment solution owned by Ant Group, the affiliate company to Alibaba / Unsplash
Alipay+ has partnered with Singapore’s leading payment services group, Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), to integrate into the SGQR system, the world’s first unified payment QR code, which combines multiple payment schemes into one single standardised QR code.
The deal means consumers using digital wallets supported by Alipay+ can also make payments at a host of locations across Singapore, including NEA hawker centres, HDB coffee shops, wet markets and JTC industrial canteens.
The deal includes consumers using Hong Kong’s AlipayHK, Malaysia’s Touch ‘n Go, Philippine’s GCash, Thailand’s TrueMoney and South Korea’s Kakao Pay.
The move is the latest in a string of initiatives and partnerships from Alipay as it reboots its expansion strategy across the region. Other recent partnerships and collaborations for Alipay+ in Singapore alone include deals with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Changi Airport Group, Resorts World Sentosa, ComfortDelGro Taxi.
Alipay+, is the cross-border digital payment solution owned by Ant Group, which is Alibaba’s financial services arm that operates as an affiliate company to Alibaba Group. Alipay+ claims to reach 1 billion regional and global consumers, while Alipay is recognised as the world's largest mobile digital payment platform.
Alipay was the focus of a regional expansion plan by Ant Group ahead of its record-breaking IPO in 2020. The IPO, which would see the fintech company valued at more than $313bn – a figure larger than Goldman Sachs – was unexpectedly suspended at the last minute in November 2020.
The shock move came after Ant Group’s controller – and Alibaba founder - Jack Ma, along with Ant Group’s executive chairman and CEO, was summoned to meet with the China Securities Regulatory Commission. The IPO was cancelled the next day, and Ant Group began to restructure the business.
The news of the Alibaba Group restructure, which will see the company split into six divisions with the option for individual units to launch IPOs, has sparked speculation that Ant Group is working towards a similar move once again.
Alibaba has not commented on Ant Group’s status in regard to the restructure. However, this has not stopped speculation that the IPO might be back on the cards.
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While analysts believe this move is still quite far away, the market believes there have been positive signs. In January, Chinese regulators approved the fintech company’s request to double its registered capital as it moves to expand its consumer finance business. Just days later, it was announced that Ma would give up his controlling share of the company as the final stage in the forced restructure that was triggered by the pre-IPO meeting with regulators.
Ant Group has maintained the business has no plans to float, "Ant Group has been focusing on its business rectification and optimisation, and does not have a plan for an IPO."
However, analysts believe Ant Group’s IPO remains the key goal for the business with the Alibaba restructure, another element to repairing relations with government officials and regulators.