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Although this acquisition had been in the works for quite a while, WorldFirst confirmed that Alibaba would be their proud new owners just this week. The deal comes after Ant Financial had tried to take over American transfer company MoneyGram, which was blocked by the United States government.

Ant Financial on a smartphone
© Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

After the US government blocked Ant Financial's attempt on MoneyGram, they set their sights on WorldFirst. After WorldFirst started talks with Alibaba and Ant Financial, they ceased operations in the US. Sources like ecommercenews.eu report that this decision was made so that Ant Financial's deal wouldn't be foiled by US regulators. It's hard to say how much money is involved in the deal, but at the start of negotiations, some reports said it is upwards of €625 million.

Alipay Payments Already Accepted By European Retailers

Now that Ant Financial has a European payments company under its belt, the expansion of Alibaba into Europe is picking up a lot more steam. Ant Financial has tried for partnerships with retailers in Europe who now accept payments from Chinese tourists and online shoppers using Alipay. Ant Financial runs Alipay, which is one of China's most popular systems in mobile payment.

Partnerships and Offices in Europe

In 2015, Alipay opened up shop in Milan and London, signing partnership deals with Barclays in the UK, the French BNP Paribas, the Italian UniCredit, with the Swiss SIX Group partnership happening 1 year later. The Dutch payments company joined the Alipay fold with a partnership in 2017. 

An Ant Financial spokeswoman had this to say: "The tie-up will add WorldFirst’s international online payments and virtual account products to Alipay’s broad range of technology solutions, enabling us to reach a greater number of customers, especially in the fast-growing area of cross border ecommerce".  

The acquisition of WorldFirst by Ant Financial will give overseas retailers much better access to the e-commerce market in China. If you own a webshop here in Europe, now's your chance to reach the Chinese market a little bit easier.