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Alibaba's payment affiliate Ant Financial upped its global expansion plans on Tuesday with a $200 million investment in the mobile finance subsidiary of South Korean messaging platform giant Kakao.
The investment is part of a larger strategic partnership to connect Alipay users to Kakao Pay, the the two companies said in a statement.
Ant Financial is a Chinese financial services powerhouse valued roughly at $60 billion and runs the highly popular Alipay mobile wallet in China. It has over 450 million users worldwide, but the company faces stiff domestic competition in China from Tencent's WeChat Pay.
The company's CEO told CNBC last month the company was aiming to have 2 billion customers in 10 years as mobile payments become more mainstream. Part of the likely strategy to reach that goal is through the series of investments Ant Financial has been making to expand its global footprint.
Last week, the company announced an undisclosed investment into payments service Mynt, a unit of Philippine telco Globe Telecom. In January, Ant Financial said it was buying U.S. money-transfer company MoneyGram in a deal valued at approximately $880 million and last year, the company invested in Thailand's Ascend Money.
"South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments," said Douglas Feagin, president of Ant Financial International, in a statement.
The company currently has over 450 million users worldwide and Ant Financial's CEO told CNBC last month the company was aiming to have 2 billion customers in 10 years.
Kakao, which is best known for its mobile messenger Kakao Talk and has more than 48 million users, decided in January to spin off its mobile payment service, Kakao Pay, into a separate entity. It said the new company will be headed by Kakao's fintech division chief, Young-Joon Ryu.
The Kakao Pay platform, which provides payment transactions, bill payment, remittance and membership management, has more than 14 million members.
Kakao shares jumped 4.48 percent to 88,500 Korean won Tuesday morning on the back of the announcement.
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