• By The Financial District


The Chinese financial technology titan is set to raise around $34 billion when its shares begin trading in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks. That would make its initial public offering the largest on record, according to the New York Times.

Ant Group, Alipay’s parent company, priced its shares around $10.30 apiece, according to documents released on Monday by the stock exchanges in the two cities. At that price, its market value would be comparable to that of JPMorgan Chase and more than that of many other global banks.

The sale puts another stamp on China’s importance as a digital powerhouse. Last year, Ant, which is backed by the billionaire Jack Ma, earned $2.7 billion in profit on $18 billion in revenue. It says it handled $17 trillion in digital payments in mainland China during the 12 months that ended in June.

For hundreds of millions of people in China, Alipay may as well be a bank. It is their credit card, debit card, mutual fund and even insurance broker — all in a single phone app. It is a lender to small businesses that might be ignored by China’s state-run banks. The question now is how much higher Ant can fly without provoking the Chinese authorities.