The South China Morning Post reports that Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial will use blockchain technology to lower the cost of overseas payments after failing a bid to buy over MoneyGram.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, internet, AI, and technology conglomerate, says the move will benefit the Filipino expatriate population of Hong Kong who systematically sends funds estimated to be HKD 4.4 billion (USD 561 million) annually back to families in the Philippines. There are more than 180,000 Filipinos working as domestic helpers in the city, making it the largest foreign community in Hong Kong.

The company’s financial arm hopes to eventually eliminate workers’ transfers fees by using blockchain, in keeping with co-founder Jack Ma’s past assurances of support for Hong Kong’s Filipino workers.

“This comes from a promise I made a long time ago when Alipay was just launched,” Ma said. “I have friends who are Filipino and they asked me when they could use Alipay to send money home because it was too expensive through banks, which charge too much.”

The service will be available through the Alipay HK wallet which facilitates payments between Hong Kong and the Philippines. Ma recently targeted the high fees charged by competitor MoneyGram, a company he attempted to purchase in 2017, suggesting that his company needed to improve on MoneyGram’s technology and utilize the impact of blockchain to go “one better”. Earlier this year, Ant Financial’s purchase of MoneyGram failed to go through as it was blocked by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

This month, Ant Financial raised USD 14 billion in its latest fund-raising round towards further technology development and expansion of its parent company globally, making it the world’s biggest fintech company. The company’s focus is now shifting from consumer-related financial services to technology development, but with a keen eye for using innovation in technology to meet unfulfilled financial needs.


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