According to a China Money Network report, Ant Financial has invested an undisclosed amount in Peanut Subway, a Wifi provider backed by Internet security firm Qihoo 360 Technology, Green Pine Capital Partners, Share Capital, and Ping An Securities.
Peanut Subway said it will release an official statement soon but Ant Financial has not commented on the report as of this posting.
Shenzhen-based Galaxy Valley Technology, the parent company of Peanut Subway, develops and operates Wifi services across subways and metro trains in China.
Ant Financial’s foray into the subway and metro train Wifi space comes barely a month after social media giant Tencent Holdings has officially entered China’s burgeoning bullet trains WiFi business by acquiring a stake in High Speed Network Technology Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Railway Corp (CRC).
Tencent teamed up with Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to acquire a 49-per cent stake in the onboard Wi-Fi provider for Rmb4.3 billion ($672.52 million), giving the Internet giant access to a large number of passengers who are using their mobile phones while traveling.
Trips on high-speed railways accounted for 56 per cent, or 1.71 billion passenger trips, of the total 3.04 billion passenger trips made on railways last year, according to a Xinhua report.
The number of passenger trips is expected to further rise as the country is forecast to have 38,000 kilometers of high-speed rail tracks by 2025, holding to the title of having the world’s longest high-speed rail network.
At the same time, China’s internet users have reached 731 million, with mobile Internet users taking up 95.1 per cent of the total, according to official data. The number is set to further increase with the reduction of tariffs on 4G technology and the arrival of the 5G era.