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Alibaba Group Holding (BABA) Unveils Virtual Reality Payment Service

Alibaba (NASDAQ:BABA)

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is readying a new payment service that will make virtual reality shopping easier and seamless. According to a Reuters report, the e-commerce giant’s finance arm Ant Financial demonstrated the VR payment service shoppers on Wednesday in China. The new payment service will allow VR shoppers make payment just by nodding their heads.

The demonstration was made a day after Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma sent in letter to shareholders. Mr. Ma wrote in the letter that he expects a birth of re-imagined retail industry in coming years. Alibaba is creating the fundamental digital and physical infrastructure for the future of commerce in order to transform China’s $4.5 trillion traditional retail industry, according to Mr. Ma. He believes that pure e-commerce players will soon face tremendous challenges as e-commerce is rapidly becoming a “traditional business.”

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA)

Alibaba introduces VR payment system

Ant Financial Services Group said that VR Pay is a VR-based payment infrastructure designed connect “various VR goggle makers and app developers to the Alipay payments platform.” VR Pay makes virtual reality “a tool rather than just a toy.” The company demonstrated VR Pay in Shenzhen on Wednesday.

Ant Financial is the parent company Alipay, a third-party online payment platform which was launched in 2004. Alipay is China’s largest online payments service with more than 450 million daily users.

According to the report, the Alipay VR payment system will allow people to pay for purchases without taking off their VR goggles. This will make the payment process seamless.

Alibaba has a strong hold on the Chinese e-commerce market.  There were $485 billion worth of goods purchased on Alibaba’s online marketplaces in fiscal 2016, which was a increase of 27% from 2015, according to Internet Retailer.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has been spending money to improve its service and expand globally. Two months ago, the company announced a new program to allow global technology companies to more easily break into China. The program, Global Marketplace and AliLaunch, is designed to facilitate international technology partners looking to enter China market.

How VR Pay works and when it is launching

Ant Financial setup incubator F Lab that has been working to develop the VR payment service for the last few months.

Lin Feng, who is in charge of F Lab, told Reuters that: “It is very boring to have to take off your goggles for payment. With this, you will never need to take out your phone.”

Rather than using biometric recognition technologies, VR Pay may be using account logins on connected devices or via voice print technology for user identification. According to Lin, this was the most convenient method in a VR setting. However, he noted that that still passwords will be required for authentication. This can be done by user with head movements, touch, or by staring at a point on virtual display for longer than 1.5 seconds.

According to the report, Ant Financial is expected to launch VR Pay by the end of this year.

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