Apple has made good on its promise that the Apple Pay mobile payment system would launch in China in early 2016.
In social media posts, bank representatives of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) said that Apple Pay would be available to its customers from today. The move sees Apple competing with China’s two biggest internet companies, Alibaba and Tencent, in a country where 358m consumers pay by mobile phone.
“We think China could be our largest Apple Pay market,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, told Reuters in an interview in Beijing.
She added that 80% of China’s credit and debit cards are eligible for Apple Pay, usable at about one in three locations that accept those cards.
However, Bailey stressed that Apple’s policy is to not compete with banks and the widely-used China UnionPay card, launched in 2002.
“China UnionPay and our Apple Pay solution has a huge advantage, given the footprint of China UnionPay,” she said. “Its merchant acceptance network far exceeds what any of the other mobile platforms have today.”
China’s state radio has reported on its website that China Guangfa Bank Co Ltd and China Construction Bank Corp are also launching Apple Pay on 18 February. Apple’s China website shows a total of 19 Chinese lenders as official Apple Pay partners.
China is the fifth country in which Apple Pay has launched but the service’s progress has been choppy, with some retailers sceptical even in its US home market. In Australia, the country’s four main banks have mounted resistance against the new entrant and Apple Pay also encountered opposition from the UK’s big banks over fees before relenting.
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