Ant Financial, operator of China's biggest online payments platform, has raised around $14bn (£10.44bn) in its latest series of funding, in what market analysts are calling the biggest-ever single round of fundraising by a private company.
Ant Financial has played a large role in the evolving fintech landscape of China. While it span off from Alibaba Group prior to the eCommerce giant's 2014 public listing, it still operates Alipay, the largest mobile payments platform in China, a region that is increasingly embracing cashless payments.
The funding round consisted of both US dollar and Chinese yuan tranches, with dollars make up over $10bn of the total, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The yuan tranche was largely made up of existing investors, while the dollar tranche saw new money coming from a variety of sources. New investors included Singapore-based soverign wealth fund GIC Pte, state investor Temasek Holdings, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and US private equity firms Warburg Pincus, Silver Lake and General Atlantic.
While Ant has not released a new valuation following the funding round, industry experts estimate that it is likely to be valued at around $150bn now, making it one of the world's largest financial firms. In addition to its digital payments platform, Ant also offers consumer finance products including credit services, wealth managment products and micro-loans.
The new injection of cash will be used to speed up the company's globalisation plans for Alipay, as well as investing in developing new financial technology. The firm is expected to focus heavily on business-oriented fintech over the next few years, shifting its revenues away from consumer products to a degree.
There is also much speculation that the new funding will be used to help the company go public in China or Hong Kong. No timetable for an IPO has been announced, although some industry experts are predicting it could come as soon as next year.