Ant Financial said to be in talks to buy WorldFirst

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China's Ant Financial, the Alibaba payments affiliate that operates Alipay, is reportedly in the advanced stages of talks to buy WorldFirst, an international payments provider based in London.

WorldFirst has established its place on the current payments landscape through its offering of payments APIs and the ability to create and onboard a payments network for clients.

Alibaba has been engaged in discussions for several months in what would be about a $700 million takeover of the British payments startup, according to Sky News.

Some reports predict an official announcement of acquisition could come within a few weeks, citing it as the most significant move by a Chinese tech company to enter the U.K.'s growing fintech sector in the era of PSD2.

Ant Financial has grown in stature and power under Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his role in expanding e-commerce in China. The company is now valued at about $150 billion. Alibaba owns about one-third of Ant Financial.

Ant Financial operates the Alipay payment platform, with a reported user base of between 600 million and 700 million users.

WorldFirst was founded in 2004 and currently employs more than 600 people. The company was seeking a license last summer to operate in China's payments market, according to Sky News.

Last year, MoneyGram shareholders had approved a deal to be purchased by Ant Financial for $1.2 billion. The companies agreed to terminate that deal early in 2018, amid pressure from U.S. regulators.

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Online payments Mobile payments M&A APIs Ant Financial China U.K.
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