Alibaba is China's biggest e-commerce business and runs China's biggest non-bank payments system, AliPay. US-based Apple corporation recently introduced its own system, ApplePay. Now there's talk of cooperation.
Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma, China's richest man, said at a technology industry conference in Laguna Beach, California that he hopes Alipay and ApplePay can cooperate on payment systems.
"I hope we can do something together", Ma said.
Alibaba handles more e-commerce transactions than Amazon.com and eBay combined. So far, its focus has been the Chinese market.
Speaking at the same conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook confimed that he plans to talk to Jack Ma later this week about a possible partnership, but he offered no details.
Ma and Cook spoke during separate appearances on an outdoor stage on the opening night of the three-day conference, WSJ.D Live.
New Apple system
Apple starting operating its new mobile digital payments service last week. For now, it operates only in the US and works only when using the company's newest iPad or iPhone 6. The company has touted the security and privacy features of ApplePay, which lets users charge purchases on their credit card accounts using their smartphone, without having to show a credit card or bank account number.
Several large banks and retail chains have partnered with Apple in the project, by agreeing to settle payments using ApplePay. Participants include Walgreen pharmacies, McDonald's and Macy's department stores.
But a number of major retailers, including drugstore chains Rite Aid and CVS Caremark, have refused to work with ApplePay. They have instead joined a retail consortium called the Merchant Customer Exchange, which is working on a rival payments system called CurrentC. The participating retailers hope to roll the CurrentC system out sometime in the first half of 2015.
Alibaba's Ma looking for deals
Ma was in California to knock on some Hollywood studio doors. This week, he plans to visit a number of studios in an effort to strike content deals.
"I want to come here looking for partners," Ma said, adding that China is destined to become the world's largest movie market.
He also said he wanted to work on selling American and European goods to China, thereby helping to balance the flow of goods in the other direction over the past decade or two.
Alibaba has acquired some small American companies, such as niche online retailer 11Main. Ma said he intends to continue to invest in the US.
nz/ng (Reuters, AP)