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China’s Ant Financial has no timetable for a listing but targets 2 billion users in a decade

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Via CNBC

Douglas Feagin, president of International Business Group of Ant Financial.

Zhong Zhi | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has no immediate plans to go public, according to a senior executive at the company.

Market-watchers and investors have speculated for years about a potential blockbuster listing for the online financial services giant Ant Financial, which has a reported valuation of around $150 billion.

“We don’t have any timetable for an IPO,” Douglas Feagin, president of the international business group at Ant Financial, told CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa and Christine Tan on Tuesday.

Feagin’s comments were in line with what other company executives, including CEO Eric Jing, have repeatedly said when asked about listing plans.

“We’re very much focused on growing our business, and, frankly, there’s not a lot holding us back,” Feagin said during an interview at CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

He added that the company is expanding into newer areas, such as providing financial services to small and medium-sized businesses.

Rise of mobile payments

Much of Ant Financial’s growth can be attributed to the rise of mobile payments and money market funds for consumers in China.

The company operates the massive Alipay service that handles financial transactions on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall e-commerce platforms and can be used as a digital payment option in stores and restaurants. Other Ant Financial products include a private credit platform as well as consumer and SME lending businesses.

Lending to consumers and small business owners — typically shunned by traditional financial institutions — is a lucrative area for many companies, including Ant Financial as well as Tencent-backed WeBank.

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Feagin said the average size of loans his company gives out is around $1,600. Small businesses, on the other hand, can use Alipay to accept payments that help to build a track record based on which Ant Financial can lend to them, he explained.

Last year, Ant Financial raised $14 billion in Series C funding.

2 billion users

The biggest “constraint” the company faces is attracting more talent to support business growth, according to Feagin. Still, that’s not stopping Ant Financial from setting ambitious targets.

Speaking to CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford at the conference, Feagin added that the company plans to increase its customer base to 2 billion over the next decade and to “dramatically” grow its users outside China.

The company currently has over 1.2 billion users around the world, according to Feagin.

“It’s 900 million (users) in China, 300 million outside. We see the 300 million growing dramatically outside of China,” he said. “Indeed, we have an ambition of serving 2 billion consumers over the next 10 plus years and so clearly the majority of those are going to come from outside China.”

He said Asia was a “huge growth market” and a “key focus for the whole Alibaba economy.”

Alibaba, which is preparing for a secondary listing in Hong Kong, recently said it had acquired a 33% stake in Ant Financial.


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