What's New in Payments

Ant Financial to create $1bn fund for Asian payments and financial services startups

Ant Financial to raise a $1bn startup investment fund — Bloomberg — “Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is planning to raise about US$1bn for a fund that will invest in startups from Southeast Asia to India and help strengthen its foothold in fast-growing mobile internet markets, a person familiar with the matter said. The internet finance company is looking to back more startups in those regions that focus on payments and online finance.”


Chinese government forms face recognition standards body

Government asks SenseTime to lead plans for national facial recognition standards — Caixin Global — “The working group, which also includes Tencent, Xiaomi, and Ant Financial, is overseen by the National Information Technology Standardization Technical Committee (NITS), which is in turn affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It will also promote the further formulation of facial recognition standards at an international level.”



What's New in Payments

Samsung Pay enters beta testing in Indonesia

Samsung Pay swipes into Indonesia — KrAsia — “Samsung Pay is partnering with Ant Financial-backed mobile wallet platform DANA to conduct closed beta testing on some devices… In the near future, Samsung Pay will collaborate with more digital payment platforms to expand its services in Southeast Asia’s most populous country… Samsung Pay is available in 24 markets. In Southeast Asia, the app has already landed in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.”





What's New in Payments

Chinese shopping street adopts face recognition payments

China’s first facial recognition payment-based shopping street opens in Wenzhou — ECNS — “A historical shopping street in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, has become the first in China to extensively apply facial recognition in making payments… Mao Xinqin, director of the street’s administration, said facial recognition payments can improve efficiency during the peak season for tourism and shopping. Yang Peng, vice president of Ant Financial, said Alipay has upgraded the payment system using a 3D structured light camera and can ensure accuracy of 99.99%.”


What's New in Payments

Alipay offers POS terminals that combine face recognition with QR payments

Alipay Box to utilize facial recognition tech for payments — Shine — “Alibaba’s financial and payment affiliate Ant Financial has released smart payment hardware called Alipay Box, integrating barcode scanning and facial recognition features… The plug-and-play device, which is smaller than a traditional self-service point of sale (POS) machine, does not require an overhaul of the merchants’ existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.”




Alipay builds travel guide into mobile payments app

Alipay launches in-app guide for Germany’s Oktoberfest — Alizila — “Alipay said Friday it launched an in-app travel guide in Chinese for visitors to Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration and the city’s 211-year-old downtown Viktualienmarkt… The pilot service will offer ‘a wealth of information on the culture and history of both venues,’ including a map, a guide to individual stalls and products, information on German behavioural norms, like how to toast with a glass of beer and advice on when and where it’s OK to take photos. Users can also pay for what they buy through the Alipay app.”


What's New in Payments

Ant Financial targets South America and Africa for next phase of mobile payments growth

Ant Financial sees huge growth for cashless payments in South America, Africa — South China Morning Post — “Kenny Man, head of international investment for Ant Financial, said over the next five years, emerging markets including those in South America and Africa will be priority for the company’s global partnerships… ‘China has leapfrogged over traditional credit cards to the mobile wallet. That same change will be even more radical and faster in different parts of the world, whereby people will embrace mobile payments,’ Man said.”


What's New in Payments

Chinese consumers have now deposited $150bn with Alipay and Tencent

PBOC to raise reserve funds ratio for third-party payment firms to 100% — Caixin — “The two largest third-party payment firms, Alipay and Tenpay, combined hold nearly 1tn yuan (US$151bn) of customers’ funds, about 90% of the total reserve funds… Reserve funds are prepayments from online shoppers held temporarily by payment companies that can then earn income on the cash by depositing it in banks or even buying government bonds… The requirement means payment firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd backed Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Tenpay can no longer invest money deposited by their respective clients.”


What's New in Payments

Ant Financial to pivot away from Alipay?

Exclusive: Ant Financial shifts focus from finance to tech services: sources — Reuters — “Ant Financial Services Group, the dominant Chinese fintech company, is shifting its main focus to technology services and away from payments and consumer finance as Beijing’s crackdown on financial risk deepens, four sources with knowledge of the matter said… They said the move was propelled, in part, by growing regulatory pressure on Ant’s core financial businesses, including payments, micro lending, credit rating and wealth management.”


What's New in Payments

Hong Kong to be global battlefront for mobile payments?

A payments battle is brewing in Hong Kong — Bloomberg — “Alipay’s azure blue logos began appearing two years ago in Hong Kong’s airport, greeting travelers from China who rely on the popular payments app back home. In recent months, taxis got them. Now stores and boutiques have them. They’re all signs of a battle brewing in Hong Kong that will test whether a Western-style financial system — based on banks, credit and debit cards — can fend off a pair of apps that have come to dominate how people spend and send money throughout China. If Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat Pay can expand into the city and win new customers there, why not in Europe and the US, too?”


What's New in Payments

Ant Financial signs technology sharing deals with Chinese banks

Ant Financial to support Shanghai Pudong Development Bank’s digital transformation with financial grade technologies — Ant Financial — “The partnership will allow Ant Financial and SPD Bank to strengthen collaboration on a broad range of inclusive finance initiatives, from improving user experience while using online and offline payment services, to providing secure, convenient and efficient financial services for small and micro businesses… The agreement is the third of its kind announced this month between Ant Financial and established banks, following partnerships with Huaxia Bank and China Everbright Bank.”


What's New in Payments

Ant Financial raises $10bn at a $150bn valuation

China’s Ant Financial raises $10 billion at $150 billion valuation: sources — Reuters — “Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China’s biggest online payment platform by market share, Alipay, has closed its latest funding round having raised US$10bn from a clutch of global and local investors, five people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Ant’s first fundraising targeting global money values the firm at US$150bn, the people said, compared with about US$60bn after its previous fundraising in April 2016.”


Transit Ticketing Today

Beijing Metro begins accepting QR code mobile tickets at turnstiles

QR code smartphone tickets available for subway — China.org.cn — “Travellers in Beijing can now use a QR code on their smartphone as a ticket to ride the subway… Passengers can download an app called RuubyPay that generates a QR code ticket that can be read using a scanner built into the subway turnstiles. The QR code scanning app can be used on any smartphone running iOS or Android that is connected to the internet, according to Sina.com. Tickets can be paid for using a linked bank, Alipay, or JD Finance account.”


What's New in Payments

Ant Financial seeks US$9bn in new funding

Jack Ma’s Ant Financial to raise $9bn, become world’s biggest unicorn — Wall Street Journal — “Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s financial technology business is about to vault into the ranks of the world’s most valuable companies. Ant Financial Services Group, carved out of his e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd seven years ago, is preparing to raise US$9bn in a private funding round, according to people familiar with the matter. That ups a previous fundraising target of US$5bn.”


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