China-based Ant Group is launching a global blockchain platform for cross-border trade settlements for small to medium-sized enterprises.

The company said the “Trusple” platform, based on its Antchain technology, allows users to upload trading orders, automatically generates a contract, and lets the banks of buyers and sellers process payments.

Ant Group runs the popular mobile payment app Alipay, which the company says has more than one billion annual active users and 711 million monthly active users.

“Just like when Alipay was introduced in 2004 as the online escrow payment solution to build trust between buyers and sellers, with the launch of AntChain-powered Trusple, we look forward to making cross-border trading safer, more reliable, and more efficient for buyers and sellers, as well as for the financial institutions that serve them,” Guofei Jiang, president of Ant Group’s advanced technology business group, said in a statement.

The announcement comes as Ant Group is preparing to raise as much as $35 billion in a dual initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The sixteen-year old company, which is backed by Alibaba Group, has reportedly been valued at $250 billion.

If successful, the IPO would be the largest in history. According to IncoPat it has submitted more blockchain patent applications globally over the past two years than any other company.

Kevin Kwek, an analyst at Bernstein, said Ant sees the payments component of its app as a hook product that can attract users to its more lucrative services, including its credit business, which originates loans that are underwritten by financial partners.

“Everyone has heard of the ‘fintech model,’ where data insights from online activities will be used for underwriting and everything will happen digitally (and quickly, even instantaneously),” he wrote. “But to witness the growth at this scale was indeed a surprise.”

Wu Jun/VCG via Getty Images


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