Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, which operates the Alipay payments platform, has said it will sign up two billion users in a decade to its various financial businesses, including digital payments, wealth management, financing, and credit reporting among others, as it seeks to firmly establish itself as a global operation. It currently has a user base of 577 million globally.
Ant also projected a 48 percent increase in revenue for the financial year ending in March 2017. Alipay itself has 451 million active users a year, making an average of 153 million transactions each day.
An increasing number of major US banks are now offering real-time payments similar to PayPal's Venmo offering as competition between traditional lenders and their fintech rivals intensifies. Bloomberg reports that JPMorgan began offering real-time payments on Sunday, while US Bank and Bank of America have been doing so since March.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Wells Fargo will join the fray this summer using ClearXchange, a network owned by seven of the big banks.
The credit cards industry became spooked for good reason yesterday after Synchrony Financial warned of higher-than-expected defaults this year, with the Wall Street Journal noting: "When one credit-card issuer sees rising defaults, it generally won't be alone."
Synchrony said it expects a charge-off rate of around 4.5 to 4.8 percent in the next year, compared with previous guidance of 4.3 to 4.5 percent for this year.
The forecast led to a 14 percent drop in Synchrony's share value in mid-day trading, with shares in Discover Financial Services and Capital One Financial also hit. Synchrony executives warned on Tuesday that US consumers seem less able to pay their debts, perhaps because of taking on more vehicle and student loans, a problem which could effect other issuers. "There is never just one cockroach," the Wall Street Journal observed.
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