Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial moves into equity crowdfunding to rival

Written by Qinwen Wang || July 06 2015

The big data e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba is now eager to leverage their data on millions of users and transactions in new projects. This time they have followed their formidable rival by moving into the crowdfunding area to extend financing to SMEs.

Last year JD launched Coufenzi, a crowdfunding site which is designed for entrepreneurs who need to find early-stage investors. Coufenzi operates in a similar mode to Kickstarter, which allows users to contribute funds toward individual projects and products. So far, projects on Coufenzi have raised a total of RMB280 million (about $45 million). Aside from the crowdfunding service, the website will also provide companies with its cloud computing unit, financing tools, marketing support, and training service.

With the permission from Shanghai authorities, Ant Financial plans on launching its own equity crowdfunding platform on the Alibaba’s e-commerce shopping website Taobao. Ant Financial is in lockstep with China’s regulator’s financial market reform process which is to allow equity crowdfunding pilots to address the difficulties that small businesses have with fund raising. The CBRC now is working on regulations to provide guidance to the legal grey area that crowdfunding business currently operates in. Alibaba is always on the frontier of supporting SMEs with its financial arms such as soon-to-launch MYBank to provide SMEs with loans. Before crowdfunding service, Alibaba was also investing in entrepreneurs and focused mainly on e-commerce sellers who rely on its various platforms, including Taobao and Tmall, to conduct business.