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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) Offers Free Virtual Celebrity Dates to Chinese Shoppers (BABA)

Alibaba (BABA)
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd  tested its virtual reality (VR) technology this weekend in China, inviting customers to shop and go on a virtual date in a virtual world. The company was testing out a creative approach to promote its VR player and boost sales on May 20th, a romantic pseudo-holiday in the country.
Alibaba (BABA)

To use Alibaba’s VR player, people needed a mobile app and a VR headset such as Samsung’s Gear VR. After scanning a QR code, they enjoyed shopping with a virtual boyfriend or girlfriend, while sitting at home, CNET reported.

The program allowed users to choose a boyfriend or a girlfriend for the virtual date. The boyfriend role was played by popular Chinese actor Yang Yang, while the girlfriend role was played by actress Dilraba. The two characters interacted with buyers in various prerecorded point-of-view videos. In one scene the VR celebs would wake the user up and make them breakfast.

Alibaba Testing VR To Enhance Shopping Experience

Using its virtual reality program, Alibaba wants to improve the shopping experience for its 400 million users. The e-commerce company is exploring different options so it can apply virtual reality technology to enhance its services, including online games and video streaming.

The virtual reality and augmented reality hardware industry is likely to reach $110 billion by 2025, according to Goldman Sachs Group.

During the first quarter, Alibaba setup a lab, GnomeMagic, to research the VR technology that it expect to become as common as television, Bloomberg reported. The lab will work closely with the company’s other units and affiliates, including video streaming site Youku Tudou Inc. and Alibaba Pictures Group, on virtual reality projects.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd  is working to create music and video and help promote VR-hardware manufacturers on its e-commerce platforms. The e-commerce firm has already created three-dimensional visuals for hundreds of products and will issue standards for merchants to create VR-enabled shopping options.

Samsung, Alibaba’s Alipay Partner For Mobile Payments

In other Alibaba news, the company’s mobile payments arm Alipay signed an agreement with Samsung for mobile payments in China. The deal will allow people to use their Alipay account on eligible Samsung mobile phones with Samsung Pay.

“After registering your Alipay account into Samsung Pay, users simply can begin paying with their mobile phones by swiping up from the Lock Screen, Home Screen or Sleep Mode, selecting the Alipay QR code, and holding the smartphone up to the merchant’s scanner to scan the QR code at the register,” Samsung said in a statement.

This move is expected to strengthen Samsung’s position in China, where the company is facing tough competition from as Huawei and Xiaomi.

Alipay is the biggest online payment company in China, and a report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the payment company handles 58% of all online transactions in the country. The report also noted that some 358 million consumers in China are already making transactions through their smartphones.

Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd  are trading up 0.72% to $79.36. During the last three months, the company’s stock has gained 15.33%.

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