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  • Writer's pictureAllen PakChing Lau

Research: The changes of Ant Group in 10 years

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Ant Group the parent company of mobile payment giant Alipay, announced the launch of its listing plan. Alipay was launched as early as the early 2000s, but it was only reclassified in 2014 to form part of "Ant Financial Services Group". In the past six years, Ant used payment tools to transform from Alipay, financial technology, and digital life open platforms from "Ant Financial" to "Ant Group", it has grown into the world's largest unicorn.

The core business of Ant Group is Alipay, a third-party payment platform, and a series of business segments are derived around it, including Zhima Credit, Yu’E Bao, Ant Huabei and Ant Jiebei. Since 2015, it has successively formed partnerships with companies such as Paytm in India, Ascend Money in Thailand, Kakao in South Korea, and Emtek in Indonesia, and its business has expanded from mainland China to the world.


The evolutionary history of Alipay is the growth history of ants

Ant Group started with the development of the e-commerce industry. At that time, e-commerce Taobao was established, online transactions were frequent, and payment tool Alipay was born.

Alibaba executives realised the potential value of Alipay and believed that it should become a basic service for all e-commerce businesses, not just an application tool for Taobao. Therefore, in December 2004, Alipay was separated from Taobao and operated independently.

In 2012, Alipay obtained the third-party payment license for funds and began to connect with fund companies. In 2013, Yu’E Bao went online.

In 2014, Alipay became a part of the newly formed Ant Financial Services Group, responsible for Alibaba Group's financial services.

Over the years, Alipay launched additional payment services including public utilities such as ticket purchases, water, electricity and gas. And in the next few years, with continuous development around life and social interaction, positioning is no longer limited to payment tools.

Ant announced a further transformation in March 2020. Alipay has been revised and upgraded to an open platform for digital life. The homepage highlights local life applications. In June, it was announced that OceanBase, a self-developed database product, would be independently corporate. At the end of June, Ant officially changed its name to "Ant Group", emphasising that technology is the core of the company.


The changes of Any Group indeed means a lot to the financial institutions. In the past 20 years, Banking and finance were one of the largest industries in the world. According to Investopedia, Global Banking and financial industry in 2019 was estimated to be approximately $90 trillion in capitalisation.

However, the profit has been squeezed by regulations, recession & challenges from competition. I believe a healthy financial eco-system is not a zero-sum game that should be benefiting all the stakeholders, no matter Incumbent bank, Neo-bank or Fintech companies.

In the next article, the ways how Open Finance benefit Incumbent banks will be revealed.

Author: Allen PakChing Lau


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