Chinese etail giant Alibaba has bought a $200m (£133m) stake in popular messaging app Snapchat, according to reports.

Chinese etail giant Alibaba has bought a $200m (£133m) stake in popular messaging app Snapchat, according to reports

The deal values Snapchat at almost $15bn (£10bn). In January the messaging app, which enables users to send each other messages that disappear within 10 seconds of opening, started showing videos and articles from media companies such as CNN. 

The investment is the latest in a spree of investments for Alibaba, which last year pumped money into messaging app Tango and $100m (£68m) in mobile game studio Kabam. In February it invested $590m (£387.7m) in smartphone manufacturer Meizu Technology Corp.

Separately, Alibaba is testing new technology that will enable customers to scan their face with a smartphone instead of having to enter a password. Alibaba chairman Jack Ma demonstrated the new feature, named “Smile To Pay” at the CeBit tech trade show in Hanover, Germany on Sunday (March 15).

According to CNBC, Ma said he was buying an old stamp from Hannover on Alibaba.com and took out his mobile, scanned his face with the camera, and said the item had been bought and was being delivered to the Mayor of Hanover’s office.

“Online payments are always a big headache. You forget your password…you worry about security,” Ma said.

Smile To Pay will be rolled out in China first, although there is no set date for its launch. It is being developed with a Beijing-based tech company Megvii, which operates face recognition cloud services.

Payment technologies are becoming smarter with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay now letting customers pay for goods through their mobile phones.

Alibaba was founded by Jack Ma 15 years ago and has become the biggest online retailer in China. At $25bn (£16.5bn), Alibaba’s float in the US last year was the largest ever global IPO.