Ant Financial is a big story with the potential to get even bigger. But keeping up with the Hangzhou-based fintech giant isn’t always easy. As a private company, it doesn’t provide quarterly public filings. The firm’s executives are regulars on the conference circuit, but they tend to stay on message. To get useful information, you have to dig a little deeper.
The $150 billion company is far from invisible, however, and there’s plenty of news and analysis if you know where to look. Here are the people and publications to follow.
Conference presentations usually aren’t news-making affairs, but you can get face time with Ant execs if you find the right lunch, dinner, or afterparty (or if you can pin them down when they walk offstage). Here are a few events where representatives from Ant have been seen, or are scheduled to be seen:
- Consensus: Danqing Hu, Ant’s head of product, will be at the crypto extravaganza in New York, which runs May 13-15.
- Hong Kong Fintech Week: Ant CEO Eric Jing spoke at this event in 2018, suggesting there’s a chance he’ll be at the Nov. 4-8 event this year.
- ATEC: Keep an eye out for Ant’s own events, also known as the Ant Technology Exploration Conference (ATEC).
- Money 20/20 Asia: Douglas Feagin, president of Ant’s international business group, is already slated to speak at this event in Singapore next year.
- Fortune Global Tech Forum: Alibaba founder Jack Ma has attended these conferences in the past, as has Alan Qi, Ant’s chief data scientist. The most recent edition was held in Guangzhou last November.
- China’s World Internet Conference: Top American tech executives gave this event a pass in 2018, but you can still expect execs from Asian tech companies, as well as demos of China’s whizziest new tech.
Alibaba investor relations: The e-commerce giant founded by Jack Ma agreed to take a 33% stake in Ant, replacing a previous profit-sharing agreement. Since Alibaba is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange, you can glean some information about Ant from Alibaba’s quarterly filings, annual reports, and conferences calls with analysts.
Watch the competition: Tencent is publicly listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Its filings and conference calls offer clues on the balance of power in the battle between payment services—Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Ant’s Alipay.
If you want to follow Chinese financial data in depth, you may need a Bloomberg terminal, or a Wind Financial one. QuestMobile builds databases that track the performance of China’s tech companies, and Speeda (a Quartz sister company) collects reams of data and research about private companies in Asia.
Here are a few of journalists to follow on the China tech and fintech beat:
- Quartz reporter Echo Huang writes about Chinese tech companies, electric cars, and many other things from our Hong Kong office.
- Tech Crunch’s Jon Russell writes and tweets about Asia from Bankgkok.
- For news about Ant Financial’s giant money market fund, Yu’e Bao, check out the Wall Street Journal’s Stella Yifan Xie. She writes about finance and asset management from Hong Kong.
- Zen Soo writes about China tech and payments for the (Alibaba-owned) South China Morning Post.
- Gwynn Guilford spent six years in China researching the country’s economy for hedge funds. Now she writes about the world’s second-biggest economy and its financial system (among many other things) for Quartz.
- And last but not least, Quartz reporter John Detrixhe (hello! 👋) writes about the future of (global) finance from London. Check out my stories to keep up with the latest news at the intersection of tech and finance.
- Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built: Duncan Clark’s book is the definitive account of Alibaba’s rise, including its $150 billion offspring, Ant Financial.
- Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise: Carl Walter and Fraser Howie lived and worked in China when the country’s state-owned enterprises were formed with the help of Wall Street’s top investment banks. As Howie told Quartz: “What appears on the surface in China is almost certainly not the substance.”
- Tencent 1998-2016: Survivor, Challenger and Leader: If you can read Chinese, check out this must-read about Tencent, Ant’s biggest rival.