Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, announced on Friday it has raised $14 billion in a Series C round funding, which will be used to double down on its development of blockchain technology.
Founded in 2004 as AliPay and later rebranded to Ant Financial in 2014, the Alibaba affiliate touts the goal of offering inclusive financial services to the underbanked. According to today’s announcement, the new equity financing will be used to develop the firm’s technological capacity such as in blockchain. Other areas of focus include artificial intelligence and internet of things.
Though Ant Financial has not revealed fine details on a concrete roadmap of blockchain development, the announcement is notable given AliPay’s status as a prominent payment provider in China, which touts 800 million active users last year.
The announcement also comes just days after a report has indicated the firm is pivoting to technology services.
According to Reuters on Tuesday, as China continues its crackdown on financial risk, Ant Financial is shifting its business focus away from consumer financial services to technology development. Within that, blockchain remains one main focus, the report said.
In fact, both Ant Financial and Alibaba have already started blockchain related application development. As reported previously by CoinDesk, Ant Financial has expanded the support for its blockchain-based charity donations platform while Alibaba rolled out a pilot of a blockchain Food Trust Framework that aims to track international shipments.
Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, also said in March that while the firm has ruled out possibility of an initial coin offering, it will continue on blockchain development, with a main focus on cross-blockchain compatibility.
AliPay image via Shutterstock