Alipay Wallet, the mobile app for payments and life services, has added a new feature: digital public transport card. It partners with China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development so that it works through the public transportation system by the latter that is available in most Chinese cities.

Users will be able to recharge this digital card through Alipay or online banking. And, instead of having to purchase public transit tickets that vary from city to city, a user can use one Alipay account to make payments in all available cities — currently 35 and it is expected to expand to 60 cities as of the year end.

It’s enabled by NFC technology which so far hasn’t been widely available with smartphones. Apple hasn’t adopted it for iOS mobile devices yet. It is reported that Apple is considering adding it to iPhones and iWatch.

15% of the 200 million Alipay Wallet users are on NFC-enabled phones, according to the company. Also, getting NFC phone makers to make the feature compatible with their devices is hard work. Currently only three models by Chinese smartphone brand OPPO have done so.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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