Apple's love fest with China may further extend to include Alibaba, following suggestions from both companies that a tieup in mobile payment could be a possibility.
Speaking separately Tuesday at the WSJDLive tech conference in California, U.S., Alibaba's head honcho Jack Ma and Apple CEO Tim Cook said they were open to a partnership involving their mobile payment systems Alipay Wallet and Apple Pay, reported Bloomberg.
Asked if there was any synergy between the two payment apps, Ma said: "I'm very interested in that. As always, a good marriage needs both sides working [hard at it]. I respect Apple and respect Tim very, very much."
Cook, who recently rounded up a visit to China where he hopes to open more Apple stores, said he was also open to any potential union. "I love what he's done, I think he's a brilliant guy. I think he has brilliant people at the company so if we can find some areas of common space, I love it.
"We love to partner with people that are wicked smart, that have flexible teams, that are product based and that push us and we like to push them. I think Jack has a company just like that."
And who wouldn't, especially when the value of mobile transactions in China last year climbed 317.56 percent to 9.64 trillion yuan (US$1.58 trillion) on a 212.86 percent increase in volume to 1.67 billion. Mobile payments accounted for some 3 percent of the country's overall non-cash transactions last year, as more consumers in the country turned to their devices to make purchases.
Alipay Wallet, the mobile version of Alipay, was launched in January 2013 and reached nearly 100 million users, with one-third of Alibaba's daily payments transacted via mobile. Today, Alipay Wallet processes 45 million transactions a day and has 190 million active users.