The investment in eMonkey represents Ant Financial’s eighth overseas move, and will grant the company access to Vietnam’s population of roughly 100 million, who are in the midst of the mobile internet revolution, enabling services like e-commerce and mobile payments to gain popularity in the country.
According to people familiar with the situation, the deal has been done quietly, without announcement due to simmering anti-China sentiment in Vietnam. China’s increasing economic power has caused some tensions among its neighbors who feel intimidated by China’s potential for geopolitical bullying. The two countries have had disputes over maritime claims, and there have been anti-China protests in Vietnam.
Ant Financial’s stake in eMonkey will be below 50%, but the firm is expected to provide its technical expertise in e-wallet technology, something that Ant Financial has honed in their development of Alipay in China. In return, eMonkey has already secured all the necessary permits and licenses from the State Bank of Vietnam. The largest competitor in the Vietnamese digital payments space is Standard Chartered-backed Momo.