Apple ID-linked Mobile Wallets Were Hacked and Looted in China

Alipay Iphone 2 Credit: The Straits Times
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An unknown number of mobile wallet users residing in mainland China recently had their accounts hacked by nefarious actors who used the funds available within them to make fraudulent App Store purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The hacks, which affected an unknown number of the country’s nearly one billion mobile wallet subscribers, were reportedly limited to those using the Alipay and WeChat Pay platforms. These make up China’s dominant duopoly of mobile wallet providers, and the hack was even further limited to those who specifically had their Apple IDs linked-up with their Alipay or WeChat Pay accounts. 

“Some Chinese iPhone users complained in recent days that they received mobile notifications of App Store spending they didn’t authorize, according to state media China National Radio. Complaints on social media claim losses amounting in some cases to hundreds of U.S. dollars, with text-message notifications at odd hours.”

WSJ pointed out that thieves, for the large part, racked-up transactions at the highest value allowable for the App Store in a single purchase, citing how some users lost up to 2,000 yuan ($288), according to reports from Chinese state media outlet, Xinhua.

Other details, such as how the Apple ID credentials were stolen and how many users were affected, are sparse at this time — however Alipay, in a statement acknowledging the hacks, indicated that Apple is currently investigating how the IDs were stolen.

What Should Alipay Users Do?

Apple, for its part, has not publicly commented on the matter yet, but Alipay in its statement advised any of its users who’ve linked-up their Apple IDs to “reduce their transaction limits as a mitigation measure.” A subsequent statement issued by a WeChat Pay spokesperson appeared to echo those sentiments.

Apple Pay in China

While Apple’s spent some time and nearly $13 million or more to get off the ground running with Apple Pay in the highly-valuable Chinese market — where nearly one billion people use mobile wallets to conduct everyday transactions — the Cupertino-company has so far been unable to achieve the same massive success of China’s already-established mobile wallet providers.

The iPhone-maker has tried launching major promotions in a bid to increase Apple Pay usage among Chinese customers. However, Apple ultimately had little choice but to acknowledge Alipay and WeChat Pay’s dominance as China’s established mobile wallet brands.

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