According to the official news site for Alibaba, Alipay’s parent company, the new mobile wallet product is much like any other mobile wallet on the market, and lets users store credit cards, gift cards and coupons, presumably for faster online payments through smartphones. It also allows offline payments at the point of sale using barcodes and QR codes.
Where Alipay Wallet is markedly different from digital wallets in the U.S. and Europe, where the battle is over NFC vs. cloud-based offerings, is in its of a technology called “sound wave payment.” The Alibaba news site describes the technology as using “white noise generated by one smartphone to carry digital information to another Alipay Wallet-equipped smartphone in the vicinity.”
Alipay is the largest third-party online payment in China. It boasts more than 500 million active accounts, which is four times the size of PayPal’s global userbase.
The company recently reported that its mobile payment volume increased 546 percent from 2011 to 2012.
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