Ant Financial has announced the launch of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of its technology product OceanBase, which will now allow SMBs to access the full set of the solution’s capabilities.
A member of Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, Ant’s first product was payment-processing service Alipay, which launched in 2004. Ant now offers a full suite of services, including mobile payments, savings accounts, personal investing, lending, and credit scoring.
After Alibaba launched its annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival (known as Singles Day), it soon realized that traditional commercial database solutions wouldn’t be able to keep up with the growing user demand on Alipay. It then created OceanBase.
The company has noted that during last year’s festival, Alibaba’s Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) reached $38.4 billion in one day—more than the total online retail sales made in the U.S. from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. OceanBase was able to process all transactions during that time—even when they peaked at 61 million per second.
Major financial institutions, including China Construction Bank, Bank of Nanjing, PICC Health, Bank of Suzhou and Guangdong Rural Credit Union, are already using OceanBase, which can improve database query capabilities, support broader business operations and significantly reduce software and hardware costs.
Ant Financial explained in the press release that the SaaS version of OceanBase represents “a new milestone,” providing a more flexible and cost-effective option to small-and-medium enterprise customers and developers.
The launch comes after it was reported earlier this year that Ant Financial was in discussions with banks to restart plans for an initial public offering (IPO) that was shelved over a year ago due to regulatory and profitability issues. The company was last valued at $150 billion in a 2018 fundraising round. Ant became the world’s most valuable unicorn in July 2019. The company is reportedly in discussions with Credit Suisse and China International Capital Corp about moving forward.
But while sources said it is possible that Ant Financial could consider listing in both Hong Kong and mainland China, an Ant spokesperson told the Financial Times, “We don’t have a plan nor a timetable for an IPO.”