Heavy! Ant Financial plans to acquire UK cross-border payment company WorldFirst for $700 million

It is reported that Alibaba’s financial services department Ant Financial is negotiating with British cross-border payment company WorldFirst, intending to acquire WorldFirst for about $700 million.

According to foreign media reports, Ant Financial has negotiated with WorldFirst for several months, and both parties are expected to reach a deal in the next few weeks. People familiar with the matter said that Ant Financial and WorldFirst will announce the acquisition in a few weeks.

Some people in the banking industry said that the Financial Conduct Authority has received a notice that Ant Financial will trade with WorldFirst, but it is not clear whether Ant Financial will acquire all or part of World First.

The development of Ant Financial

Ant Financial is a technology company that aims to bring inclusive financial services to the world.

Ant Financial began in Alipay, which was established in 2004. In October 2014, Ant Financial Services was formally established. With the mission of “bringing more equal opportunities for the world”, Ant Financial is committed to building an open and shared credit system and financial service platform through scientific and technological innovation capabilities to provide safe and convenient global consumers and small and micro enterprises. Inclusive financial services.

On December 8, 2004, Alipay was formally established.

On October 25, 2008, Alipay’s public utility payment service was officially launched. First of all, fully support the water, electricity, coal, communications and other contributions in Shanghai.

On November 11, 2009, Alipay announced the official launch of mobile payment services.

On December 23, 2010, Alipay’s innovative “fast payment” was officially unveiled, which greatly improved the success rate of payment and laid the foundation for the mobile payment era.

On January 9, 2012, Alipay launched the nation’s first “personal network annual bill”.

On October 16, 2014, Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Jinfu), which started at Alipay, was formally announced.

On December 12, 2015, Ant Financial launched the “Double 12” offline shopping carnival.

On April 26, 2016, Ant Financial Services announced the completion of the $4.5 billion Series B financing. Ant Financial also announced that it will take international, rural and green finance as its three strategic directions.

On January 19, 2017, the United Nations Environment Program and Ant Financial launched the world’s first green digital finance alliance at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This is the first international alliance initiated by the United Nations Environment Agency in 45 years with Chinese companies.

On June 25, 2018, based on Ant Block’s blockchain technology, AlipayHK and Philippine e-wallet GCash launched the world’s first blockchain cross-border remittance service, providing convenient, safe, transparent and low-cost for Hong Kong and Filipino residents. Remittance service.

According to public information, the payment service of Ant Financial has already covered Japan, Thailand, India, the United States and other regions. The number of users worldwide has exceeded 900 million as of November 28, 2018. In April of this year, before the new round of financing by Ant Financial, Barclays Bank reassessed Ant Financial in a report, giving a valuation of 150 billion US dollars.

An insider said that Ant Financial has seen WorldFirst as a target for acquisitions for some time, but the deal has not yet been formally completed.

According to public information, World First was founded in the UK in 2004. At the beginning of its establishment, the company was mainly engaged in currency exchange business, and gradually developed its payment business.

At present, the main business is: international remittance, foreign exchange options trading, international e-commerce platform collection and settlement, and can support dozens of online sales platforms such as Amazon.

In 2010, World First began to enter the Chinese market, providing Chinese e-commerce sellers with international collection services in US dollars, Euros, British pounds, Japanese yen and Canadian dollars.

In addition, World First is the first foreign-invested payment institution to apply for a license. In March 2018, the People’s Bank of China issued the “People’s Bank of China Announcement [2018] No. 7” (hereinafter referred to as the “Announcement”), clarifying the entry and supervision policies of foreign-invested payment institutions, requiring foreign-invested payment institutions to be in China. The People’s Republic of China has a business system and a disaster recovery system that are safe, standardized, and capable of independently completing the processing of payment services. The “Announcement” also provides foreign investment and payment institutions with provisions on information collection, storage, and capital processing.

On May 2, 2018, World First submitted an application to the central bank to enter the third-party payment market in China. In July, it successfully obtained the payment license issued by the People’s Bank of China through the investment of Yuefan Business Information Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Payment business, mobile phone payment service.

WorldFirst’s award-winning products and services

Since entering the Chinese market, World First has also achieved good results. On November 14, 2018, at the Money20/20 China Conference, Jeff Parker, Managing Director of WorldFirst Asia Pacific, told All Weather Technology that since entering the Chinese market in 2008, WorldFirst has assisted more than 50,000 Chinese exporters to collect payments from all over the world. In 2017 alone, more than $4.5 billion was recovered for China, or $12 million per day.

WorldFirst has been in existence for more than 10 years and currently has more than 600 employees. The company is chaired by David Clementi, chairman of the BBC and former deputy governor of the Bank of England. This summer, WorldFirst became the first foreign company approved to operate in China’s payment services.

In recent years, Ant Financial is accelerating its overseas presence through investment or shareholding or business cooperation. In 2015, Ant Financial has twice invested in India’s third-party payment platform Paytm; in 2016, Ant Financial Services invested in Thai payment company AscendMoney; in December of the same year, its first Korean Internet bank K-bank also won South Korea. A government-issued license.

WorldFirst provides foreign exchange and currency hedging services to businesses, banks, asset management companies and individuals around the world. Since its creation 15 years ago, WorldFirst has transferred more than £60 billion to 160,000 customers.

Ant Financial has completed the latest round of financing this summer. After the current round of financing, the company’s valuation reached 150 billion US dollars, they are currently preparing for the listing. According to reports this summer, Ant Financial has postponed its listing plan due to the impact of competitors (such as Tencent’s payment service).

According to people familiar with the matter, Ant King’s acquisition of WorldFirst will highlight China’s growing financial strength in the global economy (such as payment infrastructure).

At present, the two sides are still negotiating. Once the negotiations are successful, the deal is expected to become the biggest attempt by Chinese technology companies to enter the booming financial technology field in the UK so far.

It is unclear exactly when Ant Financial will specifically acquire WorldFirst, and whether WorldFirst’s current investors will continue to retain their shares, and there is no final conclusion. Currently, WorldFirst declined to comment on reports that may have been acquired by Ant Financial, and Ant Financial has not yet commented.

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