Alipay adds support for NFC mobile payments

Two NFC phones being tapped together to make a payment
SIMPLER PAYMENTS: Alipay’s tap-and-pay service turns a smartphone into an NFC tag reader

Alipay, China’s leading mobile payments provider and the pioneer of QR mobile payments, has launched a new service that adds support for NFC contactless payments, marking the first time the technology has been adopted by a major player in the world’s largest mobile payments market.

Alipay Tap! is designed to “expedite in-store mobile payments,” the South China Morning Post reports.

However, it “is different from the NFC payment methods of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, which function via a so-called card emulation mode.

“Alipay’s tap-and-pay service turns a smartphone into an NFC tag reader, replacing a few steps in a typical QR code-based payment scanning process with a simple tap.

“Alipay’s Tap! service is currently available for more than 2,300 brands and merchants in major mainland cities including Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan and Hangzhou.

“Merchants using the service include the 7-Eleven convenience store chain and stores at Jing’an Joy City, a major shopping centre in Shanghai, according to Chinese media reports on Tuesday,” the newspaper adds.

“The USB add-ons for Alipay’s Tap! that merchants use can also support traditional scan-and-pay services – including those of WeChat Pay, Meituan Pay and QuickPass – through a built-in camera.”

“Alipay Tap! simplifies in-store payments for iPhone and Android users,” the mobile payments giant explains in a video shared on X.

“Just tap your phone to the merchant’s NFC tag, and Alipay handles the rest. Quick and easy!”

“The merchant’s USB add-on acts as a QR scanner with an NFC tag. While it doesn’t support the ’emulated card’ mode used by Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, it integrates easily with the merchant cashier system and can work alongside other payment hardware.”

“Users need to enable NFC on their phones, keep the screen unlocked, and simply tap their phone against the merchant’s USB add-on at the cash register to complete the transaction,”  AsiaTechDaily adds. “This method reduces the transaction process by three steps compared to traditional QR code payments.”

“The smartphone acts as a reader to scan the merchant’s NFC tag, and then wakes up the Alipay app to complete the transaction online. This mode mirrors the familiar process of QR code payments but streamlines the initial steps by replacing scanning with a straightforward tap.”

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