Four weeks ago Euronet Worldwide, Inc. placed a $1 billion bid for MoneyGram, a money transfer service based in Texas and commonly used by Fort Hood soldiers and other military personnel to send and receive money while deployed overseas.
On Tuesday, China’s Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services (Ant Financial) — the company which first placed a bid of $880 million for Moneygram — responded with a news release about the competitor. In the release, Ant Financial claimed that Euronet “has conducted broad-based political attacks in Washington against Ant Financial Services Group and the integrity of MoneyGram’s business and data security practices in an attempt to stop a compelling transaction involving a core competitor.”
The news release claimed that Euronet, a Kansas-based financial firm, has created “phantom national security concerns” in an effort to stop Ant Financial’s purchase of MoneyGram.
On March 27, Euronet CEO Michael Brown sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin which said MoneyGram’s new owner would be asked to help combat “terrorist financing” by complying with confidential data requests.
“A money transfer company’s ownership and leadership at the top are critical in ensuring that all of these responsibilities are carried out fully and effectively,” Brown said in the letter. “We feel ... there are significant national security risks that merit careful evaluation for any foreign buyer of a company in this industry.”
Ant Financial claimed MoneyGram would continue to independently operate all of its data systems after the purchase and that Ant Financial would have no access to customer data. The company also said MoneyGram would retain its entire management team and all U.S. employees.
Ant is directed by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and operates in China similar to America’s PayPal system. A March 24 story in the San Diego Union Tribune said “It is believed that about 15 percent of Ant is owned by the Communist government and the sovereign wealth fund it controls.”
Fears that Chinese spies would exploit the data of American troops and their families to track military movements and identify targets to turn are unfounded, however, according to a U.S. spokesman for Ant Financial.
“Ant is a private, entrepreneurial, global company. Ant isn’t controlled by the Chinese government,” Andrew Duberstein of New York-based Sard Verbinnen & Co. told the Herald in March. “Customer data will be managed by Ant in the same way as it’s managed by MoneyGram today. Importantly, any consumer data generated in the U.S. will continue to be stored on servers in the United States. Ant has more than 630 million users around the world — and a company of this scale does not grow this big without the trust of its users.”
MoneyGram services can be found in locations including Wal-Mart and CVS Pharmacy. A Google search showed 28 locations in the Killeen-Fort Hood area.