Ant International further expands in Europe

Written by Kapronasia || July 07 2024

Ant Group, under its Ant International arm, has been on a sustained international expansion campaign that increasingly encompasses Europe. While the company’s core cross-border payments business still targets Asia, it also sees opportunity further afield. On July 1, Ant announced that MultiSafePay, an Amsterdam-based payment service provider, had become its wholly-owned subsidiary and will integrate with the Chinese company’s Antom platform.

Ant’s interest in MultiSafePay is multifold. On the one hand, the Netherlands-based company is known for being a payments innovator and providing European companies with a tailored payments ecosystem. On the other hand, MultiSafeWay focuses on the SME demographic, a market that Ant has been focusing on in its international expansion. In a news release, MultiSafeWay said that it has 18,000 SME clients. There should be some synergies with Antom, which Ant says currently supports merchants in over 40 markets “with the flexibility to accept payments in more than 100 currencies.”

Ant’s acquisition of MultiSafePay follows several months of intense promotional activity in Europe focused on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) 2024 competition. Alipay+ is being promoted as a convenient payment option for people attending the games in Germany and other European countries. The focus remains on visitors from Asia – as the participating e-wallets are based in Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea.

This strategy appears to be bearing fruit. Pietro Candela, General Manager of Europe at AliPay, told Finance Magnates in late June that during the opening week of the tournament alone, transactions in Germany rose by more than 67%. “The numbers we are seeing in Germany are beautiful, pushed by the return of Chinese travelers and people we invited from our wallet user base,” he said.

With the Summer Olympics coming up in Paris, Ant sees another opportunity to grow its footprint in Europe. The company says that Alipay+ is accepted by French retailers, hotels and restaurants, more than 500 SMEs situated close to the Olympic stadium, and a leading EU taxi company, G7.

In some ways, Ant’s expansion in Europe mirrors its earliest international expansion efforts that aimed at securing interoperability for Alipay at European retail outlets popular with Chinese tourists. This time the difference is that Ant is expanding the network beyond the Chinese mainland to encompass Hong Kong, Macau, Korea and Southeast Asia.

We will be watching closely to see how profitable these endeavors prove to be. Historically, Ant’s most profitable businesses have involved banking services rather than just payments. To date, the company has said little about the margins it is achieving through the expansion of Alipay+. Offering businesses a comprehensive payments ecosystem – which seems to be the objective with the MultiSafeWay acquisition – likely offers greater moneymaking potential.