Apple Inc.’s brick-and-mortar retail stores in mainland China will now accept payments through mobile payment app Alipay, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide, Reuters reports.
According to a statement from Ant Financial, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s financial technology affiliate, Apple’s 41 retail stores in the mainland will accept Alipay payments.
Apple’s website, iTunes store, and App Store in China have been accepting Alipay payments for more than a year now, the news agency said.
Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay are the top two payment options in China. However, in the world’s largest market for mobile phone users and mobile payment transactions, Apple’s own mobile wallet, Apple Pay, remains a bit player since its launch in the country in 2016.
The deal comes as Apple is doubling down on the market and looking to strengthen ties with local Chinese partners and government bodies, Reuters said.
The US tech giant is shifting user data to China-based servers later this month to meet local rules. It removed dozens of local and foreign virtual private network apps from its Chinese app stores last year.
Alibaba announced last week that the group will take a 33 percent in Ant Financial, which is valued at US$60 billion in its most recent funding round in 2016.
The move is seen as paving the way for Ant Financial’s planned initial public offering, for which no timetable has been set yet, Reuters said.
Alipay, China’s largest online payment service, has more than 520 million active users. It handled 1.5 billion payment transactions in 2017, up 41 percent from the previous year.
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