Alibaba’s mobile payments service could help get Apple onside with Chinese regulators
The Apple Watch could be set to crack China earlier than thought following reports that it could launch with new mobile payments technology from Alibaba.
The Chinese e-commerce giant is gearing up to launch an Apple Watch-enabled edition of its Alipay payments service, which currently has over 300 million active users, alongside the launch of Apple’s smartwatch in April, according to reports from the country.
The new service will also provide the company’s mutual fund service Yu’ebao and a QR code reader for mobile payments and currency exchanges.
Match made in heaven
However, it’s unclear at the moment how the partnership will work, i.e. if Alipay will be a completely separate service or if Apple and Alibaba had worked out some kind of agreement where Alipay will be tied into a partnership with the Apple Watch.
The relationship between the two businesses was first rumoured back in October 2014, when Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said that it made sense for his company’s Alipay Wallet mobile system to partner with Apple Pay.
“I hope we can do something together,” said Ma, adding that it should be a “marriage” that both sides want.
Cook subsequently confirmed he would like to work with Alibaba and that he would be meeting with Ma later this week to discuss potential partnerships. “We’re going to talk about getting married later this week,” he said.
A partnership between Apple and China’s largest technology company would definitely go some way towards helping the iPhone maker get through regulatory approval in the country, something it has struggled with in the past.
Apple has also previously been excluded from Chinese government procurement lists because of “security concerns,” following the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying. As a result, Chinese government officials will be unable to buy Apple iPads and MacBook laptops for government projects that utilise public money.
Last July, Apple also had to vigorously deny claims by a Chinese television broadcaster that its smartphones were a national security risk.
The company moved to try and ameliorate relations in China last September with the announcement that it was looking to hire a local manager in China to deal with Chinese government data requests on users.
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