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April 20, 2017

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Ant buys Singapore’s helloPay service

ANT Financial, the payment affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has acquired Singapore-based payment service helloPay Group, part of the Chinese firm’s drive to boost its Alipay brand and presence in Southeast Asia.

HelloPay is the payment subsidiary of e-commerce firm Lazada Group, which is majority-owned by Alibaba after a US$1 billion deal in 2016, and will be rebranded as Alipay in relevant markets, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, Ant said in a statement yesterday.

The rebranded service will remain independent of Alipay’s existing app, which has 450 million users in China and is the country’s most popular mobile payment app. Ant did not disclose financial terms of the helloPay deal.

In recent months, Ant Financial has invested in several payment firms in Asia, but helloPay marks the firm’s first foray into rebranding an acquisition under the Alipay name.

It comes as Ant is trying to boost brand recognition in several markets where helloPay operates.

Last week, Ant announced a tie-up with Indonesia’s Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) to roll out a mobile payment service. Earlier this year, Ant confirmed it will make a strategic investment in Filipino payment firm Mynt.

This week, Ant also entered a hefty second bid for US transfer service MoneyGram International Inc, trumping rival US bidder Euronet Worldwide Inc in a bitter battle and valuing MoneyGram at US$1.2 billion.

Together with recent investments in Asia, MoneyGram is a linchpin asset in Ant’s goal to grow its payment infrastructure beyond China, which would also clear the path for Alibaba to target new markets with its e-commerce empire.

Alibaba holds around two thirds of Lazada, according to data released on the 2016 deal. It has an option to buy the remaining stakes from Lazada shareholders 12-18 months after the deal closes.


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