Samsung Pay strikes partnership with Chinese online payment giant Alipay

Samsung announced today that it has cemented a deal that will make Alipay, China’s largest online payments platform, available through Samsung Pay.

The partnership, made between Samsung Electronics and Ant Financial, the Alibaba financial tech affiliate that owns Alipay,  is important because Alipay is one of the most formidable rivals mobile payments like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay face as they tackle the Chinese market.

Alipay, which claims about 450 million active registered users, launched the Alipay Wallet smartphone app, which stores credit card and coupon information and can be used for offline payments, back in 2013.

Samsung Pay expanded into China at the end of March, about six weeks after Apple Pay’s debut there.

Apple has reportedly been trying to strike a similar agreement with Alibaba since last year. The deal hasn’t been announced yet, but the popularity of iPhones in China—they still hold about a 14.6 percent market share, despite competition from Android rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi—means it would not be surprising if one was announced soon, too.

Samsung Pay users can now link their Alipay accounts and make payments with the service’s NFC and MST technology to checkout at retail stores. They can also access Alipay’s QR codes through the Samsung Pay.

The advantage of tying up with Alipay are obvious for Samsung Pay. Alipay also benefits, however, because Samsung Pay’s technology will allow it to expand into more offline businesses.

In a press statement, Fan Zhiming, the president of Ant Financial’s payment business unit, said the partnership will allow Alipay to expand its reach beyond e-commerce:

“Alipay covers the vast majority of online payment use cases. At the same time, it also developed a variety of offline use cases, including restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, taxis, hospitals, and public services. The technology integration facilitated by this partnership with Samsung Electronics will make the payment process faster and more convenient when users make payments at stores where Alipay is accepted.”

Alipay claims to be accepted at about 600,000 brick and mortar retail stores in China, as well as in over one million taxis.