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Alibaba partners with FiiSmart to announce Pay Watch, a payments-focused smartwatch

E-commerce giant Alibaba is moving into the smartwatch market with the $110 Pay Watch, in partnership with Chinese wearable fitness operator FiiSmart.

The smartwatch is one of the cheapest on the market and focuses primarily on payments. The YunOS-based wearable can make mobile payments using AliPay, the leading payments service in the country. Retailers will be able to create on-demand QR codes to facilitate payment.

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Specifications for the Pay Watch include a 1.63-inch (320 x 320) AMOLED display, dual-core processor, 4GB of storage, 300mAh battery (for 36 hours of use), Bluetooth, and compatibility with Android and iOS smartphones. Alibaba claims up to 118 hours of battery life using its power-saving mode.

Apart from the AliPay functionality, Pay Watch can receive push notifications from WeChat, email, calls, and SMS — the user won’t be able to reply from the smartwatch. It also shows the weather, time, and can check heart rate. Users will also be able to buy movie tickets on Taobao and scan them with Pay Watch.

The design of the Pay Watch reminds us of the Asus ZenWatch, with the rounded bezel and rectangular display. Alibaba will offer a range of colors for the watch and the strap, letting the customer mix and match. There appears to be a few different types of strap, though the options seems limited compared to the Moto 360 or Apple Watch.

Alibaba is promoting the Pay Watch with adverts that looks similar to the Apple Watch, targeting Chinese customers that may not want to pay a premium price for a smartwatch. The Chinese firm might not be making any money from the sale of the Pay Watch, especially if Alibaba is paying FiiSmart to develop the wearable. This might be a move to get more people in China paying for things through AliPay, as it pushes further into the financial industry.

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Pay Watch is already supported by 20,000 restaurants, 25,000 shopping stores, 30,000 marketplaces and 50,000 hotels. Alibaba plans to make it much more widely available by further integrating AliPay in China.

We doubt the Pay Watch will arrive outside of China, considering Alibaba and FiiSmart are both focused on Chinese customers. AliPay is unavailable outside of China, removing a big part of the smartwatch from people outside the country.