Alibaba considers payments partnership with Apple

Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma has said he is open to a tie-up between payments affiliate Alipay and the newly launched Apple Pay as he prepares to hit the US for partnership deals later this week.

Ma made several comments during an interview at the WSJD Live global technology conference in California late Monday that could forecast a potential partnership between Chinese payments giant Alipay and Apple Pay, as long as an equal deal could be reached.

“I hope we can do something together,” Mr. Ma said, but cautioned that it should be a “marriage” that both sides want.

Alibaba handles more e-commerce transactions than Inc and eBay Inc combined, and Alipay already has 300 million active users. But neither service has much of a presence among American retail customers. For now, Ma is happy to focus on serving his Chinese clientele, working on selling American and European products to China, reversing the typical flow of goods over the past 10 to 15 years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said later at the same conference that he would be meeting with Ma later this week to discuss potential partnerships, but did not specify whether these would relate to payments.

Ma also noted that he is in the US searching for media partners, as Alibaba makes a push into entertainment to capture a share of what it thinks will be a booming market in China.

“China will be the largest movie market in the world,” Mr. Ma predicted.

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