Ahead of its projected September 8 IPO, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is upping the cutting-edge tech factor of its online payment system with fingerprint-enabled verification on a new Huawei smartphone model set to launch this Thursday.
On Monday, the two tech companies announced that Alibaba’s online payment system Alipay (similar to PayPal) will soon allow mobile internet users to make payments with the literal touch of a finger on Huawei’s Ascend Mate 7. The biometric technology feature will be available on the company’s Alipay Wallet, allowing users to confirm their purchases faster than ever before. In order to encourage users’ feeling of security in using the system, Huawei announced that it will be encrypting the fingerprint data saved and stored on users’ phones.
Alibaba first unveiled the technology in mid-July on Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone, and announced on its Weibo account that it is considering other phone models for the identification system. Fingeprint payment was announced after China’s central bank announced in March that it had banned QR code payment in the country as a result of security concerns.
Alibaba’s main competitor Tencent is not far behind—Global Times reported that the company is developing its own fingerprint payment technology for its wildly popular mobile messaging app WeChat as it works to make its Alipay rival Tenpay a major m-commerce force in China.
The development of this technology, the rise of mobile commerce in China, and the “e-wallet battle” between Alipay and Tenpay will all be vitally important for luxury brands to watch as m-commerce grows in popularity among Chinese consumers. Although many storied international high-end brands have been wary about embracing e-commerce in fear of diluting their image, others have been making daring moves in China—for example, Burberry became the first major global luxury fashion brand to launch a shop on Alibaba’s Tmall earlier this spring.