Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has invested $200m in the mobile finance subsidiary of instant messaging group Kakao as part of a strategic partnership.

The strategic partnership between Ant Financial and Kakao Pay will increase the number of offline and online merchants accepting mobile payment by merging the 34,000 merchants using Ant’s Alipay e-wallet service into the Kakao Pay system, the companies said. This will give both Chinese visitors using Alipay in South Korea and local consumers more opportunities to use mobile payment.

Kakao Pay, which was formed as a separate entity in January, has more than 14 million members and has expanded its services from payment to bill payment and remittance. Kakao has more than 48 million users.

Ant Financial’s partnership with Kakao Pay is part of a global push for the Chinese financial technology firm following a deal last month to buy US-listed money transfer service MoneyGram International for $880m and a strategic partnership with Thailand’s Ascend Money announced in November.

Shares in Kaokao Pay’s parent, Kaokao Corp, rose as much as 4.8 per cent during the morning session in Seoul on Tuesday.

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