How Ant Group built a $200 billion financial empire

Ant Group, a Chinese financial technology company, is reportedly looking to raise a record-breaking $30 billion dollars in an initial public offering later this year. The current IPO fundraising record is held by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, which raised $29.

What is now Ant Group started with a problem for the Chinese e-commerce pioneer Alibaba.

Buyers and sellers on its eBay-like platform, Taobao, rarely trusted each other enough to actually agree to deals. The only available means of payment were cash on delivery, or a basic online transfer service, which offered no protection in case of a fraud. To overcome this, Alibaba created Alipay, a mobile payment channel that held the buyer’s money in escrow until they confirmed they had received the goods as ordered.

In a market where most small retailers were cash-based, the mobile wallet that Alibaba had created had much wider potential, as businesses and consumers saw it as a way to leapfrog debit and credit cards.

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