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Could This Be The Start Of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA), Apple, Inc. (AAPL) Partnership?

In an indication of the deepening relationship between Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the Chinese electronic commerce giant’s Alipay now supports the use of the iPhone maker’s Touch ID sensor.

The revelation comes from a report from China Daily which noted that the release of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s latest mobile application includes support for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) technology.

Integrated in iPhones since the iPhone 5s, Touch ID lets users authenticate and approve payments via their fingerprints. With the addition of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) technology to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s Alipay, users of the app in China can now make purchases using only their fingerprints.

Furthermore, the move is also seen as an indication that Apple Pay, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s nascent payments platform, may soon also make a debut in China through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s services.

This presents a massive opportunity for Apple to expand in China. Alipay, the China Daily report noted, has over 300 million users in the country. Apple has also gained an ally in its competition against the likes of Samsung and homegrown mobile companies such as Xiaomi in China.

Conversely, this may also help Alibaba, particularly its Alipay business, expand overseas as iPhone users outside of China can now use the unit’s app with the Touch ID sensor of the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to make purchases.

After separately professing their admiration for each other and their companies, Jack Ma and Tim Cook have also been reported to have held a meeting.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has Rob Citrone’s Discovery Capital Management as one of its big institutional investors. The firm reported owning about 10.39 million shares in the electronic commerce juggernaut by the end of the third quarter of the year. Citrone’s firm also owned about 8.55 million Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares by the end of the same period.

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