Ant Financial has acquired remittance firm MoneyGram for a whopping $880m. Ant Financial has been seeking methods to expand internationally, and the acquisition of Moneygram presents a lower friction way to gain a toehold in other countries.
The transfer business is less regulated, and it gives Ant a toehold in the developed American market. MoneyGram specializes in sending money from immigrants back to their home countries. Ant has been moving into developing economies as well, having recently made big investments in India and Thailand. Linking MoneyGram with these operations will be a natural step. Remittances have grown in tandem with emigration. Between 2005 and 2015, the global volume of such payments through so-called formal channels grew to $582 billion from $283 billion, according to research by Aite. MoneyGram and the larger Western Union dominate this market. However, digital upstarts like Azimo and PayPal’s Xoom are taking share, with cheaper and more convenient options. That may explain why Ant had to pay only about 12.5 times expected 2017 earnings for its purchase.