Alibaba developing VR mobile payments

China’s Alibaba is developing virtual reality (VR) enabled mobile payment technology, which could allow users to pay for goods through physical gestures.

The announcement comes after Alibaba offered a preview of its Buy+ virtual store, a 3D store where consumers can hold, feel and try on bags, shoes and clothes through the use of a headset and two hand controllers. However, there is currently no option to pay for goods while in the virtual store, meaning customers must still visit the physical store or order the items online.

Ant Financial, the owner of Alipay and a financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, noted: “We are working on the VR-driven payment tool to offer a real immersive and complete VR shopping experience.”

In the first quarter of 2016, third party mobile payment tools in China handled transactions worth $885.8 billion – up 110 per cent year-on-year, according to internet consultancy Analysys International. Alibaba accounted for 63 per cent of that share, while rival Tencent made up 23 per cent of the total.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, has also announced a partnership with smartphone technology firm HTC, to explore VR solutions for its customers. Ge Jin, business architect director at Alibaba Cloud, said: “The partnership between Alibaba Cloud and HTC will bring two of the world’s most disruptive technologies together to bring more value to businesses looking to leverage VR and cloud. This partnership will accelerate the development of VR technology in China and encourage widespread, global adoption.”

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