Ant Group, part of Alibaba Group, has appointed industry veteran Jia Hang as new regional general manager in Southeast Asia. This is a newly created role at the fintech firm, which is the operator of China’s major digital payment platform Alipay.
The move is part of ongoing efforts to double down on talent and capability building in the region, as well as to better support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to participate in the digital economy.
Jia Hang will be based in Singapore, Ant Group’s headquarter for Southeast Asia, and brings more than 20 years of experience in payments and financial technology having played several important roles across Ant Group’s international operations since 2015.
His most recent responsibilities include overseeing the global operation of WorldFirst, a system to conduct international business payments, and leading the payments solution team to support global and regional e-commerce marketplaces.
“Amid a stronger push for businesses to recover and thrive by advancing digitally to innovate for the future, we must be where our customers are,” said Jia Hang. “Through continuous and close collaborations with both public and private sectors in the region, we are dedicated to helping local businesses succeed with our talents, know-how and digital capabilities.
“Leveraging Alipay+, and together with an ecosystem of established industry partners, we are committed to supporting global merchants, including regional ones to better serve over one billion Southeast Asia consumers by connecting them with their favourite e-wallets and other mobile payment methods. We also look forward to contributing to nurturing local tech talents.”
Ant Group has been rapidly expanding their business across Southeast Asia in recent years, with one of the biggest wins being acquiring a license from the Monetary Authority in Singapore (MAS) to become a digital bank in the city-state. Digital banks are expected to be operational by this year.
Beyond Singapore, Ant Group has been investing in local fintech operators across the region since 2016, including in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. These moves are part of their goal to target the region’s bustling SME market.