By Bill Taylor, Contributor
Here is a bit of a stunner and it certainly shows how fast financial technology (aka fintech) has grown in a very short period of time. While we here in the U.S. immediately think of Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. as the “big ones” in the fintech/tech sector, there is a much bigger sleeping giant out there. Or, in this case, a not so sleeping dragon. Ant (not the pesky picnic spoiler), which goes by the more formal Ant Financial Services. As of just last Friday ANT (with a $14 billion capital raise) is now reportedly worth significantly more than venerable old Goldman Sachs. Ant – $150 billion…….Goldman – $88 billion. So how did this happen and where did Ant come from?
I’m sure everyone knows Alibaba, the Chinese conglomerate (or “Chinese Amazon”) headed by Jack Ma, right? Alibaba was started in 1999 and only five years later (in 2004) launched Alipay which cemented Alibaba’s success in e-commerce. Fast forward to 2014 when Alibaba went public, allowing it to launch Ant Financial Services. So, in just roughly four years ANT is ranked as the ninth-largest internet company in the world. Oh yeah, and bigger than Goldman, too (just love pointing that out). That’s how fast this world is growing.
Ant Financial operates Alipay (think PayPal) which processes transactions for Alibaba’s e-commerce sites BUT (a very big but) Alipay expanded to support mobile payments in stores, restaurants, etc. That expansion began a trend which rapidly caught on over the last few years and, basically, eliminated the need for cash in China. Alipay’s mobile app is beginning to be available in parts of the U.S. as well.
Another subsidiary, Yu’e Bao, operates the largest money market fund on the globe. Users can invest as little as 16 cents, get a 4% interest rate AND store their spare transactions change with Yu’e Bao. OH, guess what – Yu’e Bao means; “leftover treasure”. COOL! Think of this, too. The world’s largest money market fund is only five years old. Two more funds just launched last month too.
Ant Financial is also working on a social credit system (somewhat controversial) with its Zhima Credit unit and through its MyBank and Huabei units offers a lending business. All of this has occurred in just a few short years, at the proverbial speed of light. That’s how fast this world is changing. Oh, and did I mention ANT is now bigger than Goldman Sachs?
Bill Taylor is Managing Partner at Fintek Capital & a frequent contributor to FintekNews