Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during an interview at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

This Mobile App Backed by Jack Ma Is Mimicking Ant Financial

(Bloomberg) -- Mynt, the Philippine mobile payments operator backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, plans to roll out insurance products en route to becoming a sprawling financial services platform in its Chinese ally’s image.

The operator of the GCash app is now trying to become a conduit for insurance policies with the help of strategic partners that can help it expand a slate of products from banking and credit-scoring to financing and money market funds, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Thomas said in an interview.

Mynt, 45 percent owned by Ant, is racing against ride-hailing services Grab and Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Voyager to tap a fledgling Philippine payments market. Mynt is one of nine digital wallets outside of China that Ant’s backed, as the Chinese funds-to-finance titan tries to forge a global payments network rivaling Visa Inc.’s.

“What Ant brings to the table is a platform,” Thomas said during the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong. “When I go to a global merchant, I’m going as part of a family of wallets connected with Ant Financial and that creates a network effect that makes us much more attractive to merchants.”

This Mobile App Backed by Jack Ma Is Mimicking Ant Financial

Ma’s company is helping Mynt with risk management and technology that lets users scan an ID and faces for verification. The Philippines has only recently rolled out a national identity system. Ant Financial and Mynt also created a blockchain-based remittance service between Hong Kong and the Philippines with the help of Standard Chartered Plc in June. This year, Ant started blockchain remittance between Malaysia and Pakistan.

Mynt, whose GCash app was founded in 2004, is also 45 percent owned by Globe Telecom, a local mobile and broadband carrier. Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp. owns the remaining 10 percent. The Manila-based company’s registered users had grown 2.5 times to 15 million by the end of last year. Monthly active users grew 3.5 times, Thomas said, declining to disclose specifics.

Mynt has branched out from online payments. It’s now offering an instant-withdrawal bank savings service known as GSave in collaboration with CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. with annualized interest rates of about 2.5 percent, said Thomas. It rolled out credit-scoring system GScore and a credit finance service GCredit around April last year, he said. For a minimum 50 Philippine pesos, users can also invest in its money-market fund, operated by a third-party asset manager. Users earn interest rates of about 4 percent.

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