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 further develop new technologies such as blockchain.
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 in artificial intelligence and internet of things, as well as blockchain.
Though Ant Financial has not revealed a concrete roadmap of its planned blockchain development, the announcement is notable given AliPay's status as a prominent payment provider in China, which claims 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 perceived risks to the financial system, 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 has 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 with blockchain development, taking a main focus on cross-blockchain compatibility.
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