China’s Ant Financial signs agreement with AFI to promote technological collaborations

Ant Financial Services Group, owner of the world’s leading payment and lifestyle platform Alipay, has recently signed an agreement with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion to lay the foundation for greater technological collaboration, including in regional initiatives and working group meetings with network members.

AFI’s partnership with Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, expands the technical knowledge available to the network, including on emerging technologies and digital financial services.

Primary areas of knowledge exchange will include digital financial innovation under the umbrella of AFI’s Sochi Accord on FinTech for Financial Inclusion which calls on AFI members to create and advance platforms for systematic dialogue and partnerships among regulators, policymakers, technology providers, standard setting bodies, NGOs and academic researchers on the issue of FinTech for Financial Inclusion. 

AFI and Ant Financial, which officially entered the agreement in August 2019, will also exchange insights in the areas of inclusive green finance, gender-inclusive finance, and consumer protection and empowerment, among others.

AFI currently has two principal members in China, the People's Bank of China and China Banking Regulatory Commission.

“Ant Financial is dedicated to using technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to provide inclusive financial services to individuals, as well as small and micro businesses,” said Meng Yan, Ant Financial’s Global Head of International Partnerships. “We look forward to deepening our collaboration with AFI and our network partners, as we work to achieve our mission of bringing the world equal opportunities.”

Headquartered in Hangzhou, Ant Financial is building an open ecosystem to bring financial services to the unbanked and under-banked through technology, and also partners with financial institutions to provide services in a more inclusive way. It operates the Alipay app, which serves over 1 billion users worldwide together with local e-wallet partners, while evolving from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler where users can take public transport, pay bills, and buy wealth management products all from within the app.

In August 2016, it launched Alipay Ant Forest to promote a green lifestyle and encourage low-carbon activities — such as paying utility bills online and walking to work instead of driving — among Alipay users. Such behavior is converted into “green energy” points to grow a virtual tree in the user’s mobile phone, which can be converted into a real tree and planted in the desert by Alipay and its philanthropic partners. In three years, the scheme’s more than 500 million users have planted over 122 million trees in China’s arid regions.

“Learning about the Ant Financial services will broaden AFI members’ knowledge of risks and opportunities of technology in their stride towards making access to quality financial services more available to the world's underbanked and unbanked”, added Dr. Hannig.

Through public-private dialogue and knowledge exchange we aim to achieve shared understandings on opportunities and risks of technological innovation,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.

“AFI members and Ant Financial are both working towards making access to quality financial services more available to the world's underbanked and unbanked”, added Dr. Hannig.

Collaboration with Ant Financial was made possible through AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) platform, a unique space dedicated to enabling public and private sector decision makers to work together to advance financial inclusion globally. Through the PPD platform, Ant Financial can share its technical insights and learnings with AFI’s dynamic network of public sector leaders from around 100 developing and emerging market economies.

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