Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the Wall Street Journal: Digital conference in October, claimed that he would be entering discussions with Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba, about a potential partnership with the Chinese e-commerce company. It was speculated at the time that any partnership would likely be centered upon the integration of Apple Pay and Alipay for mobile payments on Alibaba, Taobao and Tmall.
Amid the speculation, China Daily was first to report that Alibaba has updated its Alipay app for iPhone and iPad today with Touch ID support. Alipay users with an iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus will now be able to use their fingerprint instead of a password when making mobile payments on the latest version of the app, which is a step closer to the way that Apple Pay works in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal claims that Alibaba is the number one destination for online shopping and the world’s biggest e-commerce company. The trio of websites under ownership of the Alibaba Group had combined sales transactions of $248 billion last year, more than Amazon and eBay combined. As such, any partnership with Alibaba would prove to be a very lucrative opportunity for Apple.
China has become an increasingly important market for Apple under the leadership of Tim Cook, who has always had close ties with the world’s most populous country as a former operations chief under Steve Jobs. Cook previously noted that it is “just a matter of time” before China becomes Apple’s biggest source of revenue, a reservation that currently belongs to the United States.