Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba, announced yesterday that it has formed a strategic partnership with Bangkok-based digital payment company Ascend Money, tapping the multi-billion-dollar online and mobile payments market in Southeast Asia.

Ant Financial didn’t disclose the size of its investment in Ascend Money. It said it would help Ascend grow online and offline payments and financial services business. However, a statement posted in June by China’s Ministry of Commerce said Ant Financial intended to buy a 20% stake in Ascend, with an option to increase its holding to 30%.

Online and mobile-based purchases in Southeast Asia are expected to exceed $22 billion last year, according to a Forrester report citing data from Singapore-based mobile payment company MatchMove Pay.

Asia Pacific is estimated to account for 50% of global payments revenue growth in 2015, when total payments revenues worldwide reached $898 billion, according to a 2012 McKinsey report.

Its partner Ascend was separated from communication conglomerate True Corporation and is now a subsidiary of True’s parent company, Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group, which has businesses in agriculture, retail and telecommunications.

The company operates the True Money electronic wallet service and the Ascend Nano online lending platform. It has key licenses to operate in six Asian countries including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. True Money had 800,000 users as of February, according to the company.

Source: Alibaba’s Ant Financial Taps SE Asia’s Multibillion-Dollar Mobile Payments Market

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