First signs of the Alipay Apple partnership?

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The new version of the popular Chinese payment app Alipay now supports Apple’s fingerprint touch sensor for account access and payment authorisation instead of a password.

Back in October we had talked about how Apple and Alipay were in talks to work together as they actively sought areas of mutual interest and potential cooperation. The recent news that Apple’s fingerprint ID sensor can now be used on Alipay’s platform gives us an initial glimpse of what could turn into a deeper relationship down the road. The service will be available for over 300 million Alipay users that own the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple has recently opened up the API of the fingerprint sensor to third party app developers and Alipay has now integrated this functionality in their latest software update (Alipay version 8.4). Although the fingerprint sensor integration did not require a formal partnership agreement, Alipay stated that it is an avid supporter of biometric technology in general. Industry experts are expecting mutual interests between Alipay and Apple to be found within payment authentication technology.

Apple will remain cautious over a partnership deal with Alipay as it enters the Chinese mobile payments industry with Apple Pay, however. It is currently seeking a closer relationship with China Unionpay and hopes to integrate the NFC functionality of its latest smartphone lineup with Chinese merchants. Apple Pay is expected to roll out by the first half of 2015. Apple and China Unionpay have recently agreed to allow Chinese consumers to pay with their Unionpay-supported debit and credit cards at Apple’s app store. It seems like Apple is “hedging its bets” as it enters the Chinese mobile payment market, but clearly sees a great potential in this industry. In the meantime, we stay eager to find out what lies ahead of an Alipay and Apple tie-up.

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