Payments is a natural extension of e-commerce, and now Alibaba is pushing mobile shopping to users of its payments service Alipay by letting retailers create online storefronts within Alipay Wallet, the e-payment app relaunched last year to handle online-to-offline payments.

Alipay has been recruiting merchants for its wallet app since June and now over 1,000 are on the platform. But now it is opening up access to its programming tools for merchants and software developers, including vendors on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace and Tmall store. This is aimed at making it “easier and faster for independent merchants to develop Alipay Wallet virtual storefronts, thus opening the platform up to a greater number of participants.”

The initiative may seem a bit strange for doubling up on Alibaba’s actual e-commerce apps. But it’s likely to appeal to merchants who may not want to launch a full-fledged e-commerce store on Taobao or Tmall — and could also reach out to users who may have Alipay but aren’t shopping on Alibaba’s other platforms. Retailers with in-app storefronts can sell and market their goods and services to Alipay Wallet users, and will also be able to access data analytic tools that allow them to personalize services and product recommendations.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is keen on building up its payments service — not only in terms of overseas expansion but also by providing its consumers with a robust front-facing mobile app.

To this extent, Alibaba says its latest move is also “a step toward making the app a more complete platform for online shopping and lifestyle services.” Currently, Alipay Wallet already lets users make e-payments at brick-and-mortar shops and bookings for transportation services or doctor’s appointments, among other functions.

Recently, an Apple-style Passbook feature and tracking of transactions was also introduced to Alipay Wallet.

➤ Alipay Wallet: iOS |Google Play

Headline image via Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images