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Walmart taps Alipay to bring mobile payments to 25 China stores

The world's largest retailer has been slow to grow in China, but Alipay could help it draw in more customers.

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Walmart plans to expand its mobile-payments service to more stores in China. Bloomberg via Getty Images

The world of mobile payments in China keeps heating up.

Walmart said Wednesday that it's teaming with Alipay, Alibaba's financial partner, to bring mobile payments to 25 Walmart-owned stores in Shenzhen. Customers at those stores can now make purchases using the Alipay Wallet app, a leading mobile-payment tool in China that's similar to Apple Pay or Google Wallet. A Walmart representative said the company expects to expand the service to more of its roughly 400 Walmart and Sam's Club stores in the country.

Alipay is the payments affiliate of Alibaba -- China's biggest e-commerce company -- handling transactions for Alibaba in a similar way to how PayPal handles eBay's sales. Alipay, which claims 300 million registered users, is controlled by Alibaba's founder and chairman, Jack Ma.

The new partnership could give Walmart, the world's largest retailer, an opportunity to boost its sales in the massive Chinese market, where it's struggled to grow despite big ambitions there. The deal also allows Alibaba to continue acting as a bridge for Western firms to reach and expand in the Chinese market, increasing its relevance to these major companies and bringing more services to its home country.

The deal comes just after Apple CEO Tim Cook said this week that his company is talking to Alibaba about bringing Apple's mobile-payments service, Apple Pay, to China, which could provide an additional service for Alibaba customers there, potentially working to complement Alipay Wallet.

Mobile has become a huge focus for Alibaba this year, as more of its users are drawn to searching for products and making payments on their phones. That push is showing some early signs of success, with Alibaba's revenue generated from mobile surging 352 percent to $846 million in the latest quarter.