Alibaba open to working with Apple on payments

Alibaba open to working with Apple on payments
Jack Ma plans to visit a number of Hollywood studios this week, reportedly to strike up content deals.

LAGUNA BEACH, California - Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd executive chairman Jack Ma said he's open to working with Apple Inc on mobile payments, as China's richest person prepares to call on Hollywood this week in search of media partners.

Alibaba affiliate Alipay is China's largest payments service, while Apple just this month debuted its own version of a mobile wallet, letting iPhone 6 users make payments at retailers with their smartphones.

Ma told a Wall Street Journal Digital Live conference on Monday that he has tremendous respect for Apple CEO Tim Cook. "I hope we can do something together," he said when asked if Alipay and Apple Pay might tie up.

Ma, who amassed a fortune estimated at US$25 billion (S$31.9 billion) partly through his stake in recent market debutante Alibaba, is a frequent visitor to the United States. This week, he plans to visit a number of Hollywood studios, reportedly to strike up content deals. "I want to come here looking for partners," he said, adding that China will eventually become the world's largest movie market.

Alibaba, which handles more e-commerce transactions than Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc combined, does not have much of a presence among American retail customers and Ma said his focus for now was on serving his Chinese clientele.

Ma added that he wanted to work on selling American and European products to China, reversing the typical flow of goods over the past 10 to 15 years.

Alibaba has acquired some smaller American companies such as niche online retailer 11Main and Ma said he will continue to invest in the United States.

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