code:2<^^company says@<^THE CANADIAN PRESS@< TORONTO _ Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba Group’s onlinepayment platform AliPay will officially launch in Canada through apartnership with Canadian tech firm Snap Pay Inc.< Canadian retailers will be able to accept Chinese currency fromChinese shoppers starting this week.< AliPay North America president Souheil Badran says the companywants to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access theChinese market.< He says more than 450 Canadian merchants already accept AliPay inan unofficial capacity.< But the partnership gives the payment platform an opportunity toaggressively explore opportunities for expansion in the education,winery, restaurant and retail sectors.< The company touts the increasingly lucrative role Chineseconsumers could play for Canadian businesses, given the country’sgrowing middle class.< AliPay was launched in 2004 and has more than 450 million activeusers.< “We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canadathe ability to pay as they would in China. But we also want to offerCanadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market,”Badran said.< AliPay surpassed PayPal as the world’s largest mobile paymentplatform in 2013. It is the payments platform division of onlinecommerce giant Alibaba, founded in 1999. The parent company operatesonline marketplaces and support services such as cloud computing,logistics and digital media.< The launch comes as Alibaba gears up to host heavy hittersincluding the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario PremierKathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory at its Gateway ’17 Canadaconference Monday in Toronto.< Trudeau will take the stage with Alibaba executive chairman andfounder Jack Ma at the conference aimed at promoting e-commerceopportunities for Canadian businesses in China.< Ma hosted Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland andCanadian business representatives at the company’s campus inHangzhou, China last September.< < < < < < <16:12ET 24-09-17< read more