Ant Financial Services Group has formed a strategic partnership with bKash Limited, the mobile payments platform Bangladesh’s central bank established to expand financial inclusion.

China-based Ant, operator of Alipay, aims to increase bKash's technological capabilities, extending its reach and improving security for the emerging payments system, Ant said in a Thursday press release. BKash has support from 15 local banks and thousands of merchants.

Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial
Eric Jing, CEO of Ant Financial, which operates the Alibaba payments affiliate Alipay Bloomberg News

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed but according to reports, Ant plans to buy 20% of bKash by assuming the 10% equity stake of Money in Motion LLC, a founding partner of the scheme, with the option to buy shares worth an additional 10% of the operation.

Targeting unbanked and banked consumers, bKash has more than 30 million registered accounts supported by 180,000 local agents enabling consumers to make online and mobile payments, according to the release.

“BKash can tap the experience Alipay has built over the last decade serving 800 million users together with our strategic partners worldwide,” said Eric Jing, Ant Financial’s executive chairman and CEO, in the release.

“BKash, a company taking financial series to the doorsteps of millions of unbanked people in Bangladesh, will benefit immensely from this landmark partnership with Ant Financial,” added Selim R.F. Hussain, CEO of BRAC Bank, which runs bKash as a subsidiary licensed by Bangladesh Central Bank.

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