As Chinese internet giants are fighting to own people on mobile payment, Alibaba has announced a way to make its payments service Alipay even more secure on a smartphone — with the introduction of fingerprinting technology in a deal that it inked with smartphone manufacturer Huawei.
Alipay Wallet, the e-payment app relaunched last year to handle online-to-offline payments, will be integrated into Huawei’s soon-to-be-launched smartphone, the Mate 7, which boasts biometric security technology.
Other than a fingerprint reader, the technology includes encryption and authentication managed by Huawei. This means that instead of entering passwords and codes, all that users have to do now is swipe a digit to confirm payments for a variety of goods and services.
In a bid to reassure those concerned that even fingerprint readers can be hacked, Alipay notes that Huawei is providing what is known as “chip-level security” for the Mate 7, which means fingerprint data is saved and stored on the phone — but it is encrypted and can’t be accessed. Huawei is also going to use “high-level” encryption and verification to make sure only approved third-party apps like Alipay Wallet can access the fingerprint information for transactions.
There are no details on when the Mate 7 will be launched yet, and no indication on the pricing. However, with Alipay taking this step to assure its mobile users of the security (and convenience) of paying via its wallet app, it could very well kickstart the adoption of fingerprinting technology for payments in the world’s largest smartphone market.
Indeed, Alipay says that its partnership with Huawei will give it “a way to fast-track biometric payment technology in China.”
Alibaba has been increasing its focus on Alipay as it seeks to fend off the threat posed by Tencent’s e-commerce and mobile payment ambitions. Recently Alibaba even decided to push mobile shopping within Alipay Wallet by letting retailers create online storefronts in the app, in a bid to help accelerate its growth beyond the current 100 million users it has.
Headline image via Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images