Ant Group to take over Singapore-based payments firm 2C2P as fintech giant sharpens focus on growth, overseas expansion

Ant Group, the financial technology affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, on Monday said it has formed a strategic partnership with Singapore-based payments platform 2C2P under a deal that will see the Alipay operator become the firm’s majority shareholder.

The move is expected to boost the payment options of Ant’s Alipay+, a cross-border digital payment service introduced in 2020, which can process a wide range of mobile payment methods from around the world. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

That service now has 250 payment options, including Kakao Pay in South Korea, AlipayHK in Hong Kong and Klarna in Europe. With 2C2P, those options would expand to include even more e-wallets and local payment methods, according to Ant and 2C2P’s joint statement on Monday.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

2C2P offers payment acceptance, issuing, payout, as well as other value-added solutions to merchants across the e-commerce, financial services, airlines, travel, hospitality and retail sectors. It has built a strong presence across key markets in Asia including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

An aerial view of Chinese mobile payments giant Alipay’s office building in Shanghai. Photo: EPA-EFE alt=An aerial view of Chinese mobile payments giant Alipay’s office building in Shanghai. Photo: EPA-EFE>

“Combining Alipay+ and 2C2P’s secure and comprehensive payment offerings, extensive merchant coverage and deep local knowledge of the region, this partnership is a win-win collaboration built on strengths and the shared vision to accelerate the digital transformation for businesses through innovation and best-in-class payments solutions,” said Angel Zhao, president of Ant Group’s international business operations.

Fintech giant Ant on Monday also said that the Alipay+ service now has more than 1 billion users in Asia through Kakao Pay and NaverPay in South Korea, AlipayHK, Touch ‘n Go eWallet in Malaysia, GCash in the Philippines and Dana in Indonesia.

The number of offline merchants with access to Alipay+ has surpassed 1 million across Asia and Europe. These merchants are mainly in the tourism, retail and hospitality industries.

The strategic partnership with 2C2P signals Ant’s sharpened focus on growth, as a restructuring process to meet tougher Chinese regulations nears completion.

In March, Ant Group appointed its first regional head for Southeast Asia. Jia Hang, a former UnionPay executive who joined Ant in 2015, will take up the newly-created role of regional general manager for Southeast Asia.

Ant was valued at around US$300 billion before its planned initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai was called off at the last minute in late 2020. Since then, the company has been undergoing a state-led rectification process, which has seen shrinkage of its lucrative consumer loan and micro credit businesses in China.

The fintech giant, controlled by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, was ordered to overhaul its business. The People’s Bank of China and other financial regulators directed Ant to correct “improper competitive behaviour” surrounding Alipay, break an “information monopoly” over data collection and end “inappropriate” links between Alipay and its consumer-lending operations.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.