Ant Group

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Ant Group
Ant group logo 600x312 (1).jpg
Founded 2014
Headquarters Hangzhou, China
Key People Eric Xiandong Jing, Executive Chairman; Jack Ma, Founder
Products Global tech firm

Ant Group is a Chinese technology company and global financial services firm that is an affiliate of the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group. It was formally established in October 2014 and traces its origins back to Alipay, one of the most popular mobile payment systems in the world, which Alibaba launched in 2004.[1]

Ant views itself as a technology-solutions provider that connects individuals and small businesses with banks, asset managers and other financial-services providers. Alipay sits between individuals and businesses and facilitates a range of financial transactions.[2] Alipay China was one of the first companies to receive a payment business license from the People's Bank of China, in May of 2011. [3]

In late December 2020, the People's Bank of China clamped down on Ant Group's reach. According to a Bloomberg report, the central bank told Ant executives they needed to “rectify” the company’s lending, insurance and wealth management services, and focus on its origns as a provider of online payment options. Regulators also investigated certain practices at an Ant affiliate, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The rule-tightening came a month after actions by Chinese regulators that interrupted a planned November 2020 public listing that would have valued Ant Group at more than $300 billion.[4]


Ant grew out of an online escrow service called Alipay that was created in 2004 within the online retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It was founded by Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder and then-chief executive. Ma retired from Alibaba in 2019, but he remained Ant’s controlling shareholder with slightly more than 50% of its voting rights. Ant’s name is meant to reflect the company’s goal of serving individuals and small businesses that were shut out by many large Chinese financial institutions.

Ant operates Alipay, a lifestyle and payments app with more than one billion users in mainland China. The majority of Alipay's transactions occur in China. It grew quickly and now handles more transactions annually than Mastercard and Visa. According to data from Bloomberg, by November 2020 Alipay had 711,000,000 monthly users. [5][6][7]

Ant Group had planned a major public offering in November 2020 that was expected to raise an estimated $34.4 billion, but it was ultimately blocked by Chinese regulators. Just before the IPO, on November 2, 2020, the Chinese government had put out draft rules to more tightly regulate the country's growing number of microlenders, who had not been subject to China's traditional banking regulations.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended Ant’s plans to list its IPO on November 3, 2020, saying a meeting called by Chinese regulators and changes in the financial technology regulatory environment meant Ant might not be in compliance with listing rules. Ant Group then pulled its Hong Kong listing.

The mega IPO would have been split between the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges, with the company issuing 1.67 billion shares at each exchange. Investors in the IPO were surprised by the abrupt cancellation -- the offering was oversubscribed and orders worth an estimated $3 trillion were received in advance. Ant Group was expected to make another attempt at an IPO after it changed its prospectus in light of China's new rules. [8] [9][10] [11]

In July of 2023, Ant Group announced a surprise share buyback of up to 7.6% of its equity interest at a price that valued the group at about 567.1 billion yuan ($78.68 billion), a 75% discount to the $315 billion valuation in 2020.[12]

Products and Services[edit]

Alipay’s mobile app has multiple functions besides payments. Users of the app can use shop on Taobao, an online marketplace run by Alibaba, invest in mutual funds, buy insurance policies, keep track of utility bills, borrow money and find deals from local businesses.[13]

Ant has a leading edge in mobile payment technology, one of the few areas of technology where China is ahead of the West.[14]

Key People[edit]

  • Eric Xiandong Jing, Executive Chairman
  • Simon Xiaoming Hue, Chief Executive Officer
  • Xingjun Ni, Chief Technology Officer
  • Jack Ma, Founder