Ant Financial to invest $200 million in payment unit of South Korea's Kakao

Alibaba's payment affiliate Ant Financial will invest $200 million in the mobile finance subsidiary of South Korean messaging platform giant Kakao, the two companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ant Financial, which runs the Alipay mobile wallet in China and has a valuation of roughly $60 billion, has undertaken a series of investments to expand its global reach.

Last week, the company announced an undisclosed investment into payments service Mynt, a unit of Philippine telco Globe Telecom. In January, Ant Financial said it was buying U.S. money-transfer company MoneyGram in a deal valued at approximately $880 million and last year, the company invested in Thailand's Ascend Money.

"South Korea is an important market for Ant Financial in its global expansion, and we see many opportunities in the market for innovative services and growth in mobile payments," said Douglas Feagin, president of Ant Financial International, in a statement.

The company currently has over 450 million users worldwide and Ant Financial's CEO told CNBC last month the company was aiming to have 2 billion customers in 10 years.

Kakao, which is best known for its mobile messenger Kakao Talk and has more than 48 million users, decided in January to spin off its mobile payment service, Kakao Pay, into a separate entity. It said the new company will be headed by Kakao's fintech division chief, Young-Joon Ryu.

The Kakao Pay platform, which provides payment transactions and other services such as bill payment, remittance and membership management, has more than 14 million members.

The investment is part of a larger strategic partnership to connect Alipay users to Kakao Pay, the companies said.

Kakao shares jumped 4.48 percent to 88,500 Korean won Tuesday morning on the back of the announcement.

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