This article was originally published in Chinese on Momentum Works’ WeChat platform, and translated into English by the Momentum Works team.

On March 23, Ant Group announced the appointment of Canadian-born Jia Hang, who has more than 20 years of experience in payments and fintech, as the Group’s Regional Head for Southeast Asia. 

In the official announcement, Jia Hang said, “We will leverage Alipay+ and work with renowned partners in the ecosystem to support global merchants, including regional ones, to better serve over 1 billion consumers in Southeast Asia by connecting them with their favourite e-wallets and other mobile payment methods.”

Media reports say that this is the first time Ant has appointed a regional head in Southeast Asia, but this may not be accurate. Between November 2014 and August 2018, Zhang Dayong, a veteran Ant employee with technical background, was the head of Ant Southeast Asia – which at that time also included India. 

However, after August 2018, Ant did not have a regional head for Southeast Asia. It seemed like there was no need for a regional head at that time because the Southeast Asia business was dominated by Ant’s group investments, coordinating countries to jointly invest in e-wallets, supporting Lazada and servicing the acquiring business for Chinese tourists.

Zhang Dayong, on the other hand, returned to the frontline of Southeast Asia business in August last year and joined Lazada to take charge of payments. After sorting out the relationship with Ant, Lazada still has its own payment and financial ambitions.

Ant has actually done a lot of real work in Southeast Asia, especially in fostering the ecosystem – several joint venture wallets told us that they have learned a lot of valuable knowledge and experience from Ant. Ant also obtained a digital wholesale banking license in Singapore during Covid.

Jia Hang actually joined Ant in 2015 and has served as Senior Director and Vice President. He was also Ant Group’s supervisor from December 2016, and was Chairman of the Supervisory Board during Ant’s busy IPO period from August 2020. According to the group’s statement, Jia Hang’s recent duties at Ant include overseeing the global operations of cross-border payment “WorldFirst” and leading the payment solutions team to support Ant Group’s global and regional e-commerce markets.

Prior to that, Jia spent nearly 10 years at UnionPay, serving as Chief Representative of UnionPay America’s Representative Office and General Manager of UnionPay’s international operations, among other roles. Looking at the resume, the position of Southeast Asia Regional Head seems to be a bit small. 

However, Peng Lei has also been the CEO of Lazada, and during the short period, she integrated a lot of resources. 

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.