Apple is working with UnionPay to bring its mobile payment service to China as early as 2016, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal.
The move is still subject to testing and certification by Chinese lenders.
Last week, UnionPay launched QuickPass, its new Host Card Emulation mobile solution, in Beijing this week in cooperation with over 20 commercial banks, and Apple Pay is expected to work with that service.
The deal would put Apple’s payment service before a country who collectively spent $14.3 billion in one day on Singles Day, the biggest online shopping day in the world, held every year on 11th November. Of that staggering sum, Alibaba said that $9.8 billion was spent on mobile by 94 million people.
However, it will probably be the single toughest market Apple has ever encountered. China’s mobile payment market is dominated by Alipay, which makes up roughly 70 per cent of the mobile market. It is also backed by Alibaba and is integrated into WeChat, the most popular social messaging platform in the country.
However, UnionPay has its own monopoly, that of processing bank-card payments. It has also struck another partnership with Apple’s bitter rival, Samsung.
“They are coming into a market where there are two extremely strong incumbents and a third very strong local company that is making headway. For Apple to gain traction here – it won’t be impossible, but it will be very challenging,” Mark Natkin of Marbridge Consulting in Beijing told the Financial Times.
“No matter what kind of payment it is, as long as it complies with the laws and demands in the local marketplace, as well as fulfills consumers’ needs, we will all be welcoming. UnionPay is not afraid of competition, which is a good chance for us to break past our old steps and level up our services,” said UnionPay President Shi Wenchao about QuickPass.
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