IFC and Ant Financial to enable digital financial inclusion in emerging markets

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Ant Financial Services Group, the parent company of Alipay, have signed a memorandum of understanding to make basic financial services more accessible in China and other emerging markets.

IFC and Ant Financial have previously partnered to extend microcredits to small and women-owned businesses in China. Under the new memorandum the two parties will strengthen their collaboration for inclusive digital finance, green digital finance, business-environment enhancement and credit-data analysis. IFC and Ant will also seek to replicate Ant’s innovative business model in other markets through joint investments.

“Two billion people today lack access to bank accounts and other financial services. Digital finance is an effective way to address these gaps and increase financial inclusion,” says Lucy Peng, Ant’s executive chairman. “We believe technology can help bridge the gap as a tool that allows financial services to reach more, cut costs, and promote efficiency. We look forward to an enhanced partnership with IFC and further contribute to poverty alleviation and shared prosperity.”

Ant has invested in payment and digital finance companies in India, Thailand and Indonesia. In 2016, Ant signed up to the World Bank Group Universal Finance Access 2020 goal and committed to increasing access to financial services for 100 million underserved individuals.

“Financial institutions are increasingly looking at disruptive technologies such as big-data lending and credit scoring to expand their services and client base,” says Philippe Le Houerou, IFC executive vice president and CEO. “This partnership will help deepen knowledge and create new markets for digital financial services to expand financial access and improve lives.”

As one of Ant’s earliest partners, IFC has supported Ant’s growth since 2014 through knowledge sharing and investments in debt facilities, gender loans and asset-backed securitizations. IFC and Ant are also co-investors in several Chinese financial institutions that provide last-mile financial services to the under-banked. Globally, the World Bank and IFC are committed to enabling one billion people gain access to transaction accounts through targeted interventions.

Photo courtesy of Ant Financial.