Ant Group prepares for largest IPO of all time, to raise more than $34 billion

What is Ant Group?

As the financial arm of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ant Group provides an array of payment and financial services to more than 700 million monthly users. The company processes trillions of dollars every year and facilitates loans to consumers and small businesses that may not qualify for funds from the country’s large banks. Like other gargantuan tech companies, the service functions as an all-in-one platform with a host of uses — people use the service to spend, save, invest, and as their credit card and debit card.

What is fintech?

The world of financial technology or “fintech” comprises an ecosystem of start-ups and traditional banking companies that are using the convenience and connectivity of the consumer Internet to make financial transactions easier, cheaper and more accessible for people around the world. Fintech companies offer both traditional banking services such as loans to people and managing wealth to other forms of financial assistance such as tax preparation and securing deposits for a new rental. Compared with legacy banks, with their bricks-and-mortar stores and reputation for services shrouded in dense legalese, a new generation of fintech companies touts their innovation and the seamlessness of making payments and doing business with the ease of a smartphone app.

These include companies such as Square (merchant services and mobile payments), Prosper (personal loans) and Shopify (retail sales management).

What does it mean that the largest IPO is coming out of China?

The sheer scale of the IPO and of Ant Group’s valuation highlights the comparative size of China’s titans of industry, and the country’s financial firepower. With a valuation of more than $313 billion, Ant Group exceeds the size of U.S. financial giants including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.

“It’s the first time that the pricing of such a big listing — the largest in human history — has been determined outside New York City,” said Alibaba founder Jack Ma this weekend at a business summit, according to CNBC. “We didn’t dare to think about it five years ago, or even three years ago,” he said.

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