All About Ant Group, the Next Big Tech I.P.O.


One of China’s most influential tech companies, the internet finance titan Ant Group, is poised to raise a boatload of cash by selling shares.

The sale puts another stamp on China’s importance as a digital powerhouse. But it also shows how the tech world is fracturing.

The company could be worth more than many global banks after its share sale, yet its business is highly concentrated in just one country: China. Instead of listing in New York, as many other Chinese internet companies have done, Ant is going public in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Here’s what to know about the company and its initial public offering.

Around the turn of the millennium, the internet was a lawless frontier, not least in China. Online shopping was a gamble. Buying and selling took place largely between strangers. Nobody could be sure they weren’t being defrauded.

With Alipay and another smartphone app, the social platform WeChat, exchanging money is a matter of scanning a QR code — at an in-person cashier, during checkout at an online store or face-to-face with a friend. Shops and restaurants still accept cash, though often begrudgingly.

Over time, Alipay has come to host other services, too. People in China use it to shop on credit — no plastic card required. They take out small loans, invest their savings and buy health and life insurance. Fees from those businesses accounted for more than half of Ant’s revenue last year.

Alipay has more than 730 million monthly users, more than twice the population of the United States. By comparison, PayPal has 346 million active accounts.

Ant handled more than $17 trillion in digital payments in mainland China during the 12 months that ended in June. PayPal says its total payment volume in 2019 was $712 billion. Ant also enabled around $300 billion in credit to consumers and small businesses.

When the company goes public, it could be valued around $310 billion. That would make it worth about as much as JPMorgan Chase, and much more than Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Alipay is no slouch technologically, either. Ant says its systems processed 459,000 payments a second at the peak of a Chinese shopping holiday last year. Visa, by contrast, says it can handle 65,000 transactions a second.

Ant is huge not only because China’s population is huge. Its growth was also helped by the fact that China had previously been so far behind in digital finance. Few people had credit cards. The big government-run banks were slow to modernize.


Sahred From Source link Technology