China’s one of the largest banks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has declared that it would further enhance its association with Alibaba Group and Ant Financial. ICBC will use Alibaba Group’s long-standing experience on electronic payment settlement to enhance its services.
As per the companies, the association would not be limited to payment & settlement and cross-border payment. They will do thorough research and find scope on emerging areas like corporate finance on a global scale and financial innovation.
Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said, “Alibaba Group and Ant Financial highly value our long-standing relationship with ICBC. Their commitment to building a better future has helped fuel the rapid growth of Alipay as well the broader digital economy in China.” He also added that ICBC is working with Alibaba since 2005 and ICBC happened to be the first bank to facilitate Alipay’s online payment services.
Though there has not been any official update on future collaborations between these companies, ICBC Chairman Chen Siqing said that the new association is aimed at providing new services in the country and it would also initiate innovations in the financial industry.
It should be noted that recently, ICBC has unveiled a new fintech research institute on the line of its aim of becoming a next-generation smart bank. As per a recent survey by the National Internet Finance Association of China, a large section of Chinese commercial banks is aiming to transform its business operation style and is forwarding steps towards digital transformation. A PwC report of 2017 indicates that almost 82% of the global financial companies are planning to increase their reach in the fintech sector.
Recently, Ant Financial has reported that it would create a 1 billion USD fund to invest in the emerging fintech companies in South East Asia and India. This decision seems to be on the line of Ant Financials’ plan to expand out of China.