Ant Financial Services Group, the payments and financial services arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has launched a new suite of fintech products and services targeted at financial institutions and banks. Under the Ant Financial Technology brand, the firm will provide products and services under five product portfolios: large-scale financial transaction technologies, financial security technologies, financial intelligence technologies, next-generation interaction technologies and blockchain applications.
Ant Financial Technology was launched at the 2018 Ant Technology Exploration Conference (ATEC) in Hangzhou, an annual flagship event aimed at bringing together global partners and technology experts.
Announcing the initiative, Xi Hu, deputy CTO of Ant Financial, said:
“Since our establishment in 2014, Ant Financial has focused on developing cutting edge technologies to enable inclusive finance. We are pleased that our technology products and services have already been used to improve efficiency and lower costs at approximately 200 financial institutions, including more than 100 banks, over 60 insurance companies, and more than 40 asset management firms and security brokers.
“Going forward, we will offer a full suite of technology products and services to power the growth of our financial institution partners and help them extend their services to more individuals.”
PICC Health Insurance has implemented two of Ant Financial’s large-scale financial technologies: Scalable Open Financial Architecture (SOFAStack), a financial grade distributed framework, and OceanBase, a financial distributed database. Ant Financial claims these have allowed the firm to increase its policy processing speed by a few thousand times, reduce daily reporting processing time from 4 hours to 6 minutes and shorten new product launch time by 80%.
Bank of Nanjing too is leveraging SOFAStack and OceanBase. These technologies have allowed the bank to expand its loan underwriting capacity to process one million loans per day, with an average processing speed of less than one second.
Ant Financial has also signed strategic cooperation agreements with Huaxia Bank, China Everbright Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, China CITIC Bank, and Bank of Tianjin to support them in their digital transformation.
Wenkai Zhou, vice president of Bank of Nanjing, said the rapid growth of fintech has had “a profound impact on the traditional financial industry.”
“To overcome some of the growth challenges of our business, we partnered with Ant Financial to build a distributed digital finance platform,” Zhou said. “This significantly enhanced our ability to underwrite loans and led us to expand our partnership in a number of other areas.”
Ant Financial, the largest fintech in the world valued at a whopping US$150 billion, has been moving away from consumer finance and payments to focus on technology services.
The firm said in June that the move was propelled, in part, by growing regulatory pressure on Ant Financial’s core financial businesses, including payments, microlending, credit rating and wealth management. In July, it announced that it would offer a full suite of AI capabilities with asset management companies to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs.
Ant Financial operates several products including Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform with over 870 million active users and over 200 domestic financial institution partners, Ant Fortune, a wealth management app, Zhima Credit, a social credit scoring platform, and MYBank, a private online bank.
The firm views blockchain technology as one of the five key technologies which will dominate every industry in the near future, alongside artificial intelligence (AI), security, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and computing.
So far, Ant Financial has been exploring the use of blockchain in healthcare but also cross-border payments, among other areas. In June, it launched a remittance service that allows users from Hong Kong to send money to the Philippines in less than three seconds. Ant Financial said it was working with local partners to expand the service.