Staff at the reception desk of Ant Financial Services Group at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Photo: Reuters / Shu Zhang

There is fund-raising and then there is Ant Financial Services Group. The largest online payment platform in China has raised about US$14 billion in what market watchers have called the biggest single investment round by a private company.

The cash will boost Ant’s firepower ahead of a widely expected initial public offering, or IPO, in Hong Kong and mainland China as early as next year.

To illustrate the size of this frenzy of fund-raising, data provider Crunchbase confirmed it was the biggest round of investment in financial history.

Although Ant declined to release details of its valuation following this latest intake of cash, analysts believe it is hovering around the $150 billion mark.

If the figure is correct, it would make the online payment platform one of the world’s most valuable financial firms.

“It’s the most uniquely positioned techfin company in the world,” Ben Zhou, a managing director of Warburg Pincus, who led the firm’s investment in Ant, said.

But then, Ant is not an average “techfin” firm. Spun off from Alibaba before the e-commerce behemoth’s’ 2014 listing, Ant has played a major role in shaping China’s financial technology landscape.

It oversees the largest mobile payment app in what is increasingly becoming a cashless society.

In a statement, Ant said the funding included dollar and yuan tranches. The dollar share made up over $10 billion, people with knowledge of the matter revealed.

“Now, with the help of our partners, we are going to accelerate our strategy,” Eric Jing, the chief executive of Ant, said.

Indeed, this is one Ant that is turning into a colossus.

– additional reporting from Reuters.

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