Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that operates payment service Alipay and other digital finance products, is buying 20 percent share of Bangladeshi mobile financial services provider bKash.

Selim RF Hussain, managing director and CEO of BRAC Bank, of which bKash is a subsidiary, told reporters about the development after the signing of a deal between Ant Financial and bKash at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday.

According to him, bKash will retain 51 percent of its shares and Alibaba will get the stakes from the remaining 49 percent of Money in Motion LLC, International Finance Corporation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

BRAC Bank said in a price sensitive information disclosure that its board of directors approved the share purchase proposal of bKash in a meeting on Thursday.

It said Alipay Singapore E-commerce Private Limited will purchase 20 percent of equity stake of bKash, including preference share. This 20 percent will be calculated based on post-dilution.

Alipay will purchase 10 percent of the bKash share from Money in Motion, IFC and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BRAC Bank said.

The deal entitles Alipay to subscribe for a further 10 percent share of bKash.

BRAC Bank MD Hussain termed ‘milestone’ the investment by Alibaba in Bangladesh.

“They are a big company. We will get technical, mechanical and different other sorts of help from them.

“The most important thing is that Bangladesh has advanced in strategic investment. It’s a great recognition of our economic development and digitisation,” he added.

BRAC Bank Chief Financial Officer Abdul Kader Joaddar told reporters Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation owns preferential shares of bKash while Money in Motion’s stake in bKash is 36.5 percent and IFC’s 12.5 percent.

According to him, Money in Motion is transferring 5.9 percent to Alibaba and IFC 2 percent.

Joaddar also said the entire process would take 15 to 18 months to complete.

The deal signed on Thursday was on strategic partnership. It aims to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked communities in Bangladesh, bKash said in a media release.