Alipay, the mobile payment and service provider of Alibaba Group, will launch an 8.0 version of Alipay Wallet mobile app in the coming January. The biggest change with the update is that merchants can move physical loyalty cards onto the platform. Previously Alipay Wallet released a WeChat Official Account program that merchants can have users subscribe to their digital loyalty programs; for instance, you’ll receive deals or coupons by Starbucks after subscribing to its Alipay Wallet account.
Alipay Wallet users, with the 8.0 version, thus will be able to enjoy deals or services provided by physical loyalty cards so long as they subscribe to the merchants’ Alipay accounts. Merchants also can issue digital stored-value cards for users to purchase — the payment process, of course, is supported by Alipay. The digital stored-value cards, according to Alipay, will help merchants identify loyal users and retain them.
Alipay has been working hard to have the whole offline world make or accept payments with its services. As the Alipay Wallet app is becoming increasingly powerful, there’s no wonder they’d heavily promote it. The mobile Web-based Alipay, m.alipay.com, was taken off on Dec. 26th that users have to download the app in order to use its services on mobile devices.
Other new features with the 8.0 edition include bill-splitting feature, supported by Alipay On-site, a combination of QR Code payment and acoustic payment capability created for offline payments.
A screenshot (see below) circulating online shows there is an English version of Alipay Wallet. It is rumored that it will be launched together with the 8.0 edition. The Balance in the image is Yuebao, which buys mutual funds with Alipay balance for users — or the Balance just shows Alipay account balance. And the WeChat Official Account-like service is named Alipay Public Service. The Alipay PR staff we reached out declined to confirm it.