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McDonald’s has teamed up with Ant Financial — the financial services subsidiary of Alibaba, China’s largest ecommerce player — to start accepting mobile payments in more than 2,100 of its restaurants in China, using Alipay. (Think of Apple Pay or Android Pay in the U.S.)

McDonald’s Shanghai chains will be the first to integrate the new mobile payment option, with the countrywide rollout to be completed by March next year.

The fast-food chain is also looking to partner with Alipay on “data technologies” to learn more about its customers, businesses, and ecosystems — essentially to compile big data on Chinese consumers in order to really take its business in the country to the next level.

“It will take customers only two seconds to pay their meals at McDonald’s after introducing Alipay to its outlets, by scanning the QR code in users’ Alipay,” Ant Financial said in a statement.

While it’s just getting started, the timing is interesting. Just yesterday, Alibaba inked a strategic investment in India’s largest ecommerce and mobile payments company, Paytm, in a deal that is said to be worth $680 million and leave Paytm valued at $4 billion.

Alibaba is now estimated to own around 40 percent of Paytm, making it an ecommerce/payments force to be reckoned with globally — no longer just inside China. It also makes you wonder if this latest tie-up in China between McDonald’s and Alibaba means that there could eventually be new synergies for the fast-food chain to expand its mobile payments into India on the back of the Paytm deal.

In the U.S., McDonald’s already accepts Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.


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