Ant Financial is finally getting its long awaited initial public offering off the ground with bankers preparing the fintech behemoth for a dual listing in mainland China and Hong Kong, reported the Financial Times.
Ant dominates mobile payments in China, where scanning QR codes to pay for everything from a bowl of noodles to bike-shares to movie tickets is the norm. Its app includes one of the world’s largest money market funds. And at least 296 million consumers turn to its Huabei and Jiebeilending products for credit. They also often shop on Taobao, the ecommerce platform run by Ant’s sister company Alibaba.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba found its ecommerce business facing added regulatory risk on Wednesday with the signing of the US-China “phase one” trade agreement. Sales of counterfeit Nikes, Adidas and Jack Daniel’s on Taobao have landed the platform on the US Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets list for several years running.
The deal may also help US card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express receive licenses to process renminbi payments in China, after a decade-long regulatory delay. After a WTO ruling went against China in 2012, Beijing slow-walked setting up an application process. In 2017, Visa and Mastercard were able to put in applications — which were met with silence. The deal requires Beijing to accept those applications within five working days of receiving them and make a decision within 90 days.