Ant Financial, the digital payments arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has reached an agreement to acquire US-based money transfer services provider MoneyGram, in a cash transaction valued at $880m.

The transaction will help Ant Financial to connect MoneyGram’s money transfer network of 2.4 billion bank and mobile accounts and 350,000 physical locations with its users.

Upon completion of the transaction, MoneyGram will merge with Ant Financial, and the combination will provide users in more than 200 countries and territories with convenient and accessible financial services.

MoneyGram will retain its brand name and management team. Alex Holmes will continue to serve as CEO of MoneyGram and collaborate with Douglas Feagin, senior vice president of Ant Financial, and Souheil Badran, general manager for North America, from Ant Financial.

MoneyGram will also continue to operate from its headquarters in Dallas and is likely to maintain and grow its US-based workforce.

Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing said: “The acquisition of MoneyGram is a significant milestone in our mission to bring inclusive financial services to users around the world.

“We believe financial services should be simple, low-cost and accessible to the many, not the few. The combination of Ant Financial and MoneyGram will provide greater access, security and simplicity for people around the world to remit funds, especially in major economies such as the United States, China, India, Mexico and the Philippines.”

Subject to the approval of MoneyGram stockholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2017.