Apple and Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba are in talks rumoured to centre on accelerating the rollout of Apple Pay in China and other Asian markets.
Apple CEO Tim Cook first revealed talks were taking place last month at the Wall Street Journal's WSJ Digital conference. Alibaba are the dominant player in online shopping in China, with an 80 per cent market share according to some estimates.
A partnership with Alibaba would be tremendously beneficial to Apple, especially if Alibaba customers were able to continue using their existing accounts, creating a pain-free transition to the Apple Pay system.
A deal could also ease Apple's dealings with Chinese regulations. The company's relationship with the Chinese government has never been especially comfortable, and with recent regulatory issues delaying the launch of the iPhone 6 in China, the situation is especially fraught. Partnering with a Chinese company could make the launch of Apple Pay considerably easier.
Alibaba, in turn, would benefit from Apple's experience in physical retail. While the company has a secure hold on online retail in China, it is less well established in bricks-and-mortar stores. Partnering with Apple Pay would provide it with a simpler route to supporting NFC payments in stores.
Jack Ma, CEO and founder of Alibaba, spoke to CNBC about the possibility of a deal, saying that "we've had great discussions, and I think both are interested."
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