Alibaba positive on partnership with Apple Pay in China

The potential alignment between Alibaba’s Alipay and Apple Pay would only concentrate on the Chinese market, according to a senior executive of Alibaba.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is now discussing specifics of its financial-services affiliate with newly introduced Apple Pay, but the services will focus on the Chinese market exclusively, Alibaba's Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai said on Tuesday.

Alibaba is positive about the potential partnership with Apple, but it will depend on the details being worked out as "there are certain restrictions and limitations on Apple's payment business operations in China," said Tsai, according to a Tencent news report.

Currently, Alibaba's electronic payment service is supported by a financial affiliate in China's Zhejiang province, with one potential way forward being to let the financial affiliate provide back-end services for the Apple Pay payment system, and allow iPhone users to pay the bill from their own Alipay accounts via Apple Pay, Tsai added.

Alipay is a mobile wallet owned by Alibaba, widely used for online and mobile payments in China. Last month, Alibaba announced the number of active Alipay users reached 190 million in China, with daily mobile payment exceeding 45 million transactions.

On the Singles Day online-shopping extravaganza in China, Alibaba saw its online sales reach 57.1 billion yuan (US$9 billion) by midnight, with about 43 percent from mobile transactions, the group said. A Morgan Stanley note projected that e-commerce sales in China — the world's largest populated country and the second largest economy — to exceed those in the rest of the world combined in 2018.

In March this year, internet consultancy iResearch forecast over half of China's third-party online payments will be made on smartphones and tablets by the year of 2017, according to a South China Morning Post report. It added that gross merchandise value of the mobile payment segment is expected to hit 11.9 trillion yuan in 2017, comparing with the 1.2 trillion yuan registered last year.

In September, along with the launch of its latest smartphone model in China, Samsung announced it has teamed with China UnionPay to introduce the near-field communication payment services to Chinese customers.

China UnionPay is now the world's largest card brand with 3.53 billion cards in circulation worldwide.

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