Jack Ma’s AliPay Might Partner With Apple Pay

Jack Ma and Tim Cook both repeatedly teased a possible partnership between The Paypal-like AliPay and Apple Pay in two separate talks while on stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference in Laguna Beach, California this evening.

Cook joked with the WSJ’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker that he was going to go discuss a marriage between AliPay and Apple Pay after his talk. He said of Ma, “If we can find some areas of common space, I love it. I love partnering with people like that.” Ma had hinted earlier that he was, “very interested in something like that,” when referring to a possible partnership with Apple’s newly unveiled mobile payment system.

Ma holds the majority stake in AliPay, which handled over $200 billion in payments worldwide this last year. Compare that to PayPal, which processed $180 billion in 2013. While Paypal dominates in the online payment space in the U.S., AliPay is the strongest contender in China. About 800 million customers use the payment service, accounting for 70% of China’s online transactions.

An Apple Pay/AliPay partnership is certainly intriguing. Apple Pay activated over 1 million credit cards within the first 72 hours of going live with the service, making it a strong contender in the digital payment space. AliPay dominates in online payments for a good chunk of the rest of the world and, as Ma pointed out on stage, “Alipay is now the third largest payment system in the world, behind Visa and Mastercard.”

Cook ended his talk by saying he and Ma would probably talk sometime this week about maybe getting together.