China loves it. Wall Street fears it. Washington wants it to go away. Meet Ant Financial, the fintech company that’s worth about twice as much as Goldman Sachs.
It’s hard to overstate how big Ant has become since its payment service was started some 15 years ago. It runs the world’s biggest digital wallet and offers the biggest money market fund. And unlike most other Chinese financial companies, Hangzhou-based Ant has ambitions far beyond its home market, having made investments around the world, from the UK to Thailand.
Ant springs from billionaire Jack Ma’s other company—e-commerce giant Alibaba—but the fintech firm has become its own important story. It has gone from a clunky, fax machine-enabled payment service to a futuristic app, known as Alipay, that can handle more than three times as many transactions per second as Visa. Along with a constellation of affiliates, Ant reaches more than 1 billion usersaround the world.