Some big moves in the payments platform space: Ant Financial Group, the owner of China's Alipay payment platform, has announced it's taking a minority stake in Swedish payments platform Klarna . Klarna has a strong European presence and a flagship product that lets shoppers buy now and pay later in interest-free installments (typically 14 or 30 days after the purchase).
The pair have not disclosed terms of the deal but Reuters reported the stake amounts to less than 1% and was made up of existing and new shares. It also cites its source telling it the stake was done at a “slight uptick” to Klarna's $460 million funding round last August, which valued the company at $5.5BN.
A spokeswomen for Klarna told us it's not disclosing the value of the investment but she confirmed Reuters reporting, saying the stake is less than 1%.
Ant Financial is part of Chinese ecommerce and retail services multinational giant, Alibaba Group, which took a 33% stake in the fintech affiliate back in 2018 that gave it direct ownership of its suite of products and services -- including an investment fund, micro-loans, insurance services, a digital bank and the Alipay mobile payments platform.
Prior to today's news, Klarna and Alipay had already been collaborating via Alibaba's global ecommerce marketplace, AliExpress -- which offers Klarna's "Pay later" option in multiple markets.
Now the pair touted their deepening partnership as set to bring more "innovative and convenient" financial services to consumers worldwide.
They are also clearly hoping to further grease the wheels of East to West ecommerce by expanding opportunities for China's growing middle class to tap into Klarna's network of European and global merchants via their preferred online payment method.
Commenting in a statement, Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiątkowski said: “For too long consumers have had to endure non-intuitive, boring and overly complex services when shopping both online and offline. At the heart of this cooperation between Klarna and Alipay is a shared ambition of innovating truly superior shopping experiences and creating destinations of inspiration for consumers across the world."
"Alipay, and the wider Alibaba Group, have truly set the global pace on retail innovation and the app economy. We are delighted in this confidence shown in Klarna in defining the future of payments and shopping and are very much looking forward to working together further in the future," he added.
Klarna said its technology is being used by more than 200,000 retailers and e-commerce platforms globally at this point, including AliExpress, H&M, ASOS, Expedia Group, IKEA, Farfetch, Adidas, Spotify, Samsung and Nike .
Last year it said it added over 75,000 new merchants -- describing itself as a "strategic growth partner" for these retailers and claiming it's driving "millions of referrals and traffic each month" from owned channels to partner merchants from consumers who it says are actively seeking where they can shop with Klarna. (It claims a base of 85 million shoppers.)
Ant Financial, meanwhile, has been working on expanding Alipay's global footprint by cutting local deals in markets outside China where it cannot build up its transaction volume organically. Notably, back in 2015, it took a stake in India's One97, the operator Paytm, a major local mobile payment platform.
TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden contributed to this report