Ant Group’s IPO, which was set to be the world’s biggest IPO, was halted by Chinese regulators due to apparent changes in “the financial technology regulatory environment”. The Group expected to raise US$34.5 billion, significantly higher than the initial largest IPO of Saudi Aramco at US$25.6 billion. What are the implications of this IPO, and how will Ant Group disrupt the global financial industry?
Traditional banks are set up to be expensive middlemen. Assuming a regular savings account, banks give users small interests that are lost to inflation. Banks will then loan money back to users at a much higher interest rate, while also using the money to invest for greater returns.
Ant Group does not work like a traditional bank. Aside from just Alipay, a payment platform, they have diversified into many other business segments:
Ant’s investment platform which allows users to invest their money directly in money markets. It is the world’s largest money market fund.
Ant’s credit score system which gives users a way to get financing or lending to buy a house or car immediately based on their payment record. 10 million users have already gotten credit even if other banks have given them a poor credit score.
Ant’s online bank which can approve a loan in minutes. It has already given out over 20 million loans to companies that otherwise could not easily get them from banks.
Xiang Hu Bao
Ant’s mutual protection plan gives users a way to secure their own insurance by paying in a central fund that then pays out in case of critical illness. There are no extra fees for those who take part. Over 50 million signed up in the first 6 months.
Ant’s block-chain based platform that gives users a trusted network to transfer assets, including music, video articles, contracts, and other IP with digital copyright certification.
While traditional banks make it difficult to set up a new account, to make international transfers or to choose the right investments, Ant works like Amazon, where the customer experience is the main focus, at the fastest speed and lowest price. This is the reason Ant was given their title as the ‘Amazon of money’.
As Bill Gates say, “The world needs banking but it does not needs banks.” The banking industry is one that will be massively disrupted in the coming digital decade. This phenomenon is already prevalent in China and will continue to gain momentum globally. Ant Group’s IPO can only be held off for the time being, but there are always other avenues to raise capital. Once this happens, we will see disruption in several other traditional industries as well.
How will this affect our local banks?
How will this impact Singapore’s award of Digital Banking License? Will this be a steppingstone for Ant’s entry into the Singapore market?
What will happen to the existing Fintech companies? What will be their strategy to remain relevant?