In partnership with UnionPay, Apple Pay confirms its launch into mainland next year
Apple and China UnionPay today announced a partnership to bring Apple Pay to China in early 2016, following “relevant tests and certifications required by Chinese regulators,” Apple stated in an official release.
UnionPay cardholders can use Apple’s mobile payment system on Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad, with payment processed simply by holding the device over the reader.
Last month, e27 reported on the speculated move into China’s market, citing Apple’s Q4 sales numbers in Greater China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong) at US$12.5 billion, a 99 per cent increase year-on-year.
China UnionPay is the national bankcard association in China and is available in 150 countries and regions around the world. UnionPay cards can be used across more than 26 million merchants and 1.9 million ATMs. To date, there have been over five billion UnionPay cards issued.
Given Apple’s success in China — the country is its largest market after the US — it’s clear why Apple is eager to enter the world’s most populous country. However, Apple will be facing direct competition from domestic payment services Tencent’s WePay and Alibaba’s Alipay.
Di Jin, of marketing research firm Forrester, speculates on the challenge that lies ahead for Apple Pay, “The partnership between Apple and UnionPay is a strategy of compromise that is unlikely to help Apple gain more users from its competition, despite UnionPay’s existing mobile payment alliances with banks and Internet companies. Alipay remains the industry’s dominant player, which Apple Pay would find difficult to surpass in the near future.”
Forrester speculates that the development will, however, help Apple tap into China’s huge O2O (online-to-offline) market, aligning with Apple’s market strategy.
Roll-out for Apple Pay is expected to hit Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016.
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