China’s ubiquitous payment app Alipay is now allowing iPhone users to seamlessly link Alipay and Apple Pay accounts. Alipay is owned by Ant Group, an affiliate company of tech conglomerate Alibaba.
iPhone users with iOS 16.4 and later can now enter the Apple Zone within the Alipay app and from there add their Alipay account to their Apple ID. After the 3-step linkage process is complete, Alipay users can seamlessly authorise payments on their iPhone in one step via Apple ID, removing the need to pivot between separate payment accounts.
Users can manage the linked payment system from within the Alipay Apple Zone, where they can also set monthly payment limits and check purchase details etc. Alipay is reportedly the first third-party payment system in the world to introduce this kind of function.
Alipay is currently in the process of expanding its business across Asia, most recently brokering partnerships with multiple payment service providers in Singapore to facilitate the use of Alipay in the city-state.
In 2020, Ant Group was on track to raise the world’s largest IPO at the time with a valuation of 313 billion USD. But plans were cut short by the Chinese government due to its concerns over excessive power in the private sector. This kicked off a two-year long crackdown with Alibaba and Jack Ma at the eye of the storm.
Alibaba’s recent restructuring into six new units with induvial CEOs has revived investors’ hopes in an Ant Group IPO in the near future. With IPOs for Alibaba divisions Cainiao Logistics and Ali Cloud in the works within the next 12-18 months, some believe Ant Group will follow suit. However, as an affiliate company only partially owned by Alibaba, Ant Group is distinct from the six new units created under the restructure, meaning IPO timelines are less clear cut than for Cianiao and Ali Cloud.
Jack Ma’s voting share in Ant Group was reduced in January, meaning that “no shareholder will, alone or jointly with another shareholder, have the power to control the outcome of Ant’s general meetings”. So whilst an IPO is not necessarily imminent, the new “transparent and diversified” shareholder structure puts a potential future Ant Group IPO on the path to full approval by the government when the time comes.