New Name, New Journey? 'Ant Financial' Becomes 'Ant Technology'
COVID-19 and China
Image credit: the company's official website

► Ant Technology has placed a high value on following technology developments in recent years, with achievements based on research into blockchain and AI.  
► In the future, the company will focus on digital upgrades to keep abreast of the times and better serve the whole society, instead of limiting itself to the financial industry.

After being ‘Ant Financial’ for six years, the parent company of online payment platform Alipay, has officially renamed itself to ‘Ant Technology,’ as the company has opted for technology as its new developing direction.

In fact, the name-change wasn’t just one word – it went beyond the level of mere branding. 

After being valued at more than USD 160 billion – topping the global unicorn list – the company decided to go beyond financial services, and reshaped itself into a technology and digital-driven company with a worldwide scope. 

Ant Technology used to be formally linked to Zhejiang. They finally got rid of ‘Zhejiang’ – the location of the headquarters – and replaced it with ‘Group’, heralding its ambition to further expand its business scope globally. Ant not only operates in multiple cities in China, but has also put offices in Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom, to name a few. Moreover, as of the end of 2019, the users of Alipay had exceeded 1.2 billion worldwide. 

In the digital era, the competitiveness of a financial services provider is closely related to its IT capabilities – and the Hangzhou behemoth has been doing quite well.

Xingjun Ni, the new CTO of Ant Technology, was transferred from the technology division, and will lead the company towards the advanced-technology direction. As reflected, the revenue contributed by technology is expected to consist of 65% of the total figure next year, the technicians also take up over 63% of the staff.

Such a high regard on technology has transformed into a productivity drive. 

Through 2017 to 2019, the company ranked first globally on blockchain-related patent applications, with the number of 1,005 in 2019 exceeding the sum total of No.2 by 4. Some new technology projects by Ant also debuted. OceanBase, the newly developed database launched this June, defends its position as a technology provider. Openchain, an independently worked-out technology platform that debuted last year, significantly reduced the on-chain costs to only thousands of yuan for small businesses. The upgrades on Alipay that focus on the digital platform construction serve as the main channel for the company in the shifting technology landscape.

Ant's story is not unique: many tech companies in China have recently been in the limelight, trying to expand their businesses beyond the traditional scope.

For example, JD Digital, a new title after JD Financial, is aiming to redefine itself as a technology provider for the financial industry. 

With an unchanging goal of utilizing technology to empower and generate value for individuals and businesses since the very beginning, the company will become the ‘Ant Technology Group,’ changing itself to even better meet the digital demands of the economy. 

Editor: Luke Sheehan

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