Alibaba Boss Jack Ma
Alibaba Group's Executive Chairman Jack Ma speaks at the WSJD Live conference in California on 27 October.Reuters

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's boss Jack Ma has said he is open to working with technology major Apple on mobile payments.

Alibaba affiliate Alipay is China's largest payments service, while Apple has just rolled out its own version of a mobile wallet, allowing iPhone 6 users to make payments at retailers with their smartphones.

Ma told a Wall Street Journal Digital (WSJD) Live conference on 27 October that he has tremendous respect for Apple CEO Tim Cook.

When asked if Alipay and Apple Pay might combine forces, Ma said: "I hope we can do something together," Reuters reported.

Alibaba, which handles more e-commerce than Amazon.com and eBay combined, does not have much of a presence among US retail customers.

But Ma said his focus for now was on serving his Chinese patrons. He added that he wanted to work on selling American and European products to the Chinese.

Alibaba rolled out its first online marketplace in the US – christened 11Main.com – in June.

Alipay's Success

One of the reasons Alibaba has been so successful in China is that the company tapped into the way consumers in China preferred to shop and helped them overcome some of their initial fears about buying online.

Some of this relates directly to technology, such as Alibaba's proprietary e-wallet Alipay, then there is the huge import the Chinese place on product reviews and word of mouth. This is combined with the blinding pace with which the Chinese e-commerce market is evolving particularly in respect of mobiles and tablets.

Alibaba's Alipay system is an escrow-based payment method in which consumers would not have to release the funds until they had received and inspected the package. These have gone a long way towards alleviating buyers' concerns about purchasing online.