Alipay 515Ant Financial, which owns Alipay (Alibaba’s Payment System), is raising a new round of financing that could value the company as high as $60 billion ahead of a much-speculated public listing.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is in talks with investors to pull in 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in fresh money.  Ant Financial didn’t provide comment on the report, but TechCrunch was able to verify from a source close to the deal that the firm is raising, and at a valuation of between $50 billion to $60 billion as the Journal first reported. Ant Financial closed its Series A last summer, while that deal was undisclosed it came at a valuation of $45-$50 billion.

Ant Financial is best known for operating Alipay, China’s top online payments service that counts 500 million users and 200 million credit cards. The firm’s other businesses include Sesame credit-scoring, Yu’e Bao money market fund, a micro-loan program and Alibaba’s online bank: MYBank.

Jack Ma Alibaba (1)Background:  Ant Financial was controversially spun off from Alibaba by Jack Ma in 2011 to avoid regulatory issues.  A move that drew heat from investor Yahoo.  Alibaba’s record-breaking $25 billion IPO in 2014 didn’t include Ant Financial, which is expected to IPO in China next year.  The two entities are separate, but they share a number of executives and investors while Alibaba stands to profit from a public listing thanks to its shareholding. The two have also joined forces in the past, through investments in Hong Kong-based lottery firm AGTech Holdings and India’s PayTMa commerce and payments firm that very much resembles Alibaba and Ant Financial.

Alipay isn’t the only billion dollar financial to be set free from a e-commerce giant in China. Nasdaq-listed’s financial services arm pulled in $1 billion in January led by Sequoia China. That round valued JD Finance at around $7.1 billion. Baidu and Tencent, which also rival Alibaba across a range of areas, both run their own online banks and financing programs, but each (WeBank, Tencent, and Baixin Bank, Baidu) is a unit inside the parent company.

Source:  Techcrunch