Alibaba division Ant Financial raises $4.5B in private funding round

Ant Financial (its official name is Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group), the financial division of Alibaba that owns Alipay, recently raised $4.5 billion private funding round, according to a report by CNBC.

Credited as the world’s largest single private funding round for an internet company, the deal gives Ant Financial a valuation of $60 billion. This positions Ant just behind U.S. ride-sharing app Uber ($62 billion), and ahead of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi ($45 billion).

The funding round was led by Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation as and China Construction Bank.

The two financial giants were joined by a few existing shareholders including China Life; China Post Group, the parent company of Postal Savings Bank of China; China Development Bank Capital and Primavera Capital Group.

Ant Financial said the money from the investment round will go to infrastructure costs, including cloud computing and biometric verification technologies as the company drives growth internationally and in rural China.

The financial affiliate, which was spun off from Alibaba before its IPO in 2014, currently operates Chinese payment giant Alipay which has total of 450 million active users and processes 170 million transactions per day. The company also runs online money-market fund Yu’e Bao, banking service MYbank, and lending platform Ant Micro Loan.

Ant Financial also has plans to expand Alipay beyond China in an effort to help Chinese tourists make purchases internationally using its platform.

In 2015, Alibaba and Ant Financial increased their stake in Indian payments firm Paytmto drive its India expansion plans.

Sabrina Peng, president of Alipay International, recently told CNBC that it is “actively looking” for more partners in Asia as it continues to expand in the region. In addition to further growth in Asia, Alipay is also launching soon in Europe.

Previously reported, Alipay partnered with DDB China to launch a new campaign titled “Who Art You” to demonstrate its facial recognition technology.

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